Generally speaking, iron is considered to be a very common resource. But I cannot find any evidence that there is any of it at all in New Guinea. Copper and gold, yes. Even nickel and cobalt. Iron on the nearby island of Bougainville. But no mention of iron.

Are there really no useful iron deposits on the entire island? Or is it more like, there are some, just not big enough to make the news?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We have huge deposits if black sand type very maggentic type $\endgroup$
    – Alois Gume
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


The island of New Guinea is effectively divided into two entities, the country of Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half and the Indonesian province of West New Guinea occupies the western half.

No known hard rock deposits of iron ore have been reported for anywhere on the island.

In Indonesia, as of 2020, the top five iron ore mines are:

  1. Yiwan Mine

The Yiwan Mine is located in South Kalimantan. It is owned by Yiwan Mining.The mine produced an estimated 2.547 MTPA of iron ore in 2020.

  1. Gag Island Project

Located in West Papua, the Gag Island Project is owned by Indonesia Asahan Aluminium. The surface mine produced an estimated 1.06 MTPA of iron ore in 2020. The mine will operate until 2047.

  1. Pomalaa Mine

The Pomalaa Mine is located in South East Sulawesi. It is owned by Indonesia Asahan Aluminium and produced an estimated 0.943 MTPA of iron ore in 2020.

  1. Pakal Island Mine

The Pakal Island Mine, owned by Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, is a surface mine located in North Maluku. The mine produced an estimated 0.515 MTPA of iron ore in 2020.

  1. Nalo Baru Mine

Owned by Earthstone Holdings, the Nalo Baru Mine is a surface mine located in Jambi. It produced an estimated 0.027 MTPA of iron ore in 2020. The mine will operate until 2031.

As you state in our question, there a small number of hard rock deposits on smaller islands that are part of Papua New Guinea.

The only iron ore resource that occurs on the island of New Guinea are deposits of iron sands. They lie on the southern coast of PNG, around the coast of the Gulf of Papua. Currently, the main deposits are at Amazon Bay in the south east and Orokolo at the top of the gulf.

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It appears the iron sands are associated with other mineral sand minerals that are zircon rich, with some deposits having titanium and others vanadium. The iron sands are composed of magnetite.

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    $\begingroup$ fwiw Gag Island is politically part of Indonesian Southwest Papua, albeit not geographically contiguous with the island of New Guinea/Papua proper $\endgroup$
    – obataku
    Apr 9, 2023 at 1:54

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