Libyan Iron Deposit
Sunday, March 27, 2011 4:26:23 PM
The Wadi ash Shati iron-ore deposit, somewhere in the desert north of Sabha, ca. 500 km south of the Mediterranean coast, is one of the largest iron deposits in the world. Some years ago it was estimated to contain 1,600 million tons of oolitic hematite, limonite, chamosite, and siderite with a grade range of 30%–48% iron. The deposit was discovered In 1943. Because of the distances and technical problems involved, profitable exploitation of the deposit would depend on the construction of a proposed railroad to the coast. Development of the deposits would allow Libya self-sufficiency in iron and steel. Around 2008 an 800 km long railway was actually proposed from Sabha to the port of Misurata for iron ore transport (to be build by China). Libya had decided to resume iron ore production in 2010, but I am not quite sure how far they got with their plans, and what will happen in the future.
The deposit is suitable for open pit exploitation distributed over an area of 80 km2, and have a maximium thickness of 90 m. The deposit occurs within a Late Devonian formation exposed in the upper part of an essentially continuous Palaeozoic detrital succession.
To produce steel you need not only iron ore, but also large quantities of coal. Steel works are therefor often situated where you have both iron and coal mines. Lack of local coal and the the long transport route to the Mediterranean coast may therefore be a serious obstacle for any economic profitable exploration of this Libyan iron deposit.