Javaboy (javaboy32) wrote in little_details,

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Extracting Iron From Bauxite

My Google-fu and Wikipedia-fu have finally failed me. It must be time for my first question! And a stupid mining question at that!

My story has a fiefdom based on the Darling Scarp in Western Australia. They've started a new community from scratch following an apocalypse, and have decided to forgo electricity and machinery and turn back to the simple pre-Industrial Revolution ways of life.

Having iron and steel in an environment like this would be good (it means there are swords, strong building materials and the like). This is easy enough to do through building a basic blast furnace. Problem is that while the Scarp does have iron ore lying around, it's contained in bauxite. Bauxite is a big mix of different elements that primarily contains alumina. In current-day mining, they use a process to extract the iron out of the bauxite so that they can produce aluminium. The iron usually gets discarded because it's low grade.

But obviously, I don't want my characters running around with aluminium swords! At a pinch, can you throw bauxite into a blast furnace and come up with iron? Or is my fiefdom on the move to somewhere with more iron in the soil?

Edit: I'm wanting to set the community roughly 200 years post-apocalypse. This means that scrap iron becomes harder to find and isn't a long-term solution.

Edit 2: I think we have our answer... goethite is the solution! Thanks for everybody's help!
Tags: ~metals, ~science: geology, ~technology (misc)

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