The export and import of iron ore is often used as a barometer for local and regional economies. Houses, bridges, and roads are often built with products of mined iron, while other metals like copper are more typically used to make electrical products. Supply and demand generally have the largest impacts on the iron ore industry. The demand for iron ore is often attributed to economic conditions in places it is exported to, while mining and transportation conditions can have an affect as well. Seasonal variations that occur during the year, and competition, sometimes do as well.
Urbanization in growing countries often affects the demand for iron ore, as roads and homes are built to accommodate large populations. Trade between countries, however, can be affected by economic problems elsewhere in the world. Global recessions and debt can reduce the demand for iron ore and many other products. Its use to gauge economic conditions, however, is somewhat different from other materials associated with dispensable goods like electronics.
Seasonal temperature variations can affect the demand for iron ore, as can weather conditions such as monsoons. Regional situations like increases in taxes can impact demand, while changes in stock prices and the condition of industrial mills and mines sometimes have unpredictable results. The cost of freight transport, which can be affected by other variables such as security and fuel costs, can be another factor to consider.
Construction in industrial areas where iron ore deposits are found can also affect demand. The building of new shipping vessels and conversion of older models are sometimes influential on the demand for iron ore too, while regional regulations on cargo can inhibit some activity related to trade and importation. Indirect impacts caused by the state of financial markets are sometimes seen on construction of mining and processing facilities. Effects on the building of new factories and ships, as well as the overall local support for industrial materials, may be measurable as well.
The demand for iron ore is sometimes used to gauge the need for consumption of similar industrial products around the world. Experts often say several indicators should be used, but various factors can have positive and negative impacts on the iron ore industry. The overall pace of economic growth, in distant markets and local areas, can affect the demand for iron ore as much as the need for other materials. Businesses and economists around the world often look at this demand to identify patterns and determine whether these correspond to what other economic indicators show.