Dwarf Fortress: Where to Find Iron and Coal

Iron is one of the core resources in Dwarf Fortress and players will need it to build most early game upgrades, ranging from equipment to furniture and trade goods.

Coal, also known as fuel or refined coal, is the necessary fuel needed to smelt iron.

Before setting on a mining adventure to gather iron and coal in the game, consider checking our relevant guide on how to set up a farm. This will help make sure you’ve got enough food to feed your Dwarves before searching for minerals.

In this guide, I will explain how and where to find iron and coal in Dwarf Fortress.

Where to Find Iron in Dwarf Fortress

Starter base layout in Dwarf Fortress.
Starter base layout in Dwarf Fortress.

Iron is an essential metal in Dwarf Fortress that can be gained by mining. Specifically, players can get iron by mining any of the following ores.

  • Hematite
  • Magnetite
  • Limonite

All three ores can be found in the sedimentary stone layer, except Hematite which is also located in the Igneous Extrusive layer.

Therefore, the best way to get iron is mining or finding a cavern in the sedimentary layer and gathering all the above ores.

Also, if you manage to find a cavern while mining, try and use its water supply to build a well. This is one of the most essential early game steps to ensure your colony can thrive without worrying about water.

But what is the sedimentary layer and how do you get to it?

Stone Layers Explained in Dwarf Fortress

Expand the starter base by digging down in Dwarf Fortress.
Expand the starter base by digging down in Dwarf Fortress.

Without counting soil, similar to real-life geology, there are four stone layers in Dwarf Fortress.

  1. Sedimentary layer – There is an 80% chance of being the first layer after soil. This layer includes various minerals and vast amounts of iron-related ores. However, it has few gems and these aren’t worth much.
  2. Igneous extrusive layer – When the top layer isn’t a sedimentary layer (20% chance) is almost always an igneous extrusive layer. These are characterized by visible signs of magma, lack of flux, and similar ore density to sedimentary layers.
  3. Metamorphic layer – Found deeper than the above two, the metamorphic layer includes copper, silver, marble, and various moderately valuable gems. However, this level only has a minimal amount of ores.
  4. Igneous intrusive layer – This is the deepest stone layer that connects with the magma sea. It is characterized by a lack of mineral ores and a high density of rare and valuable gems.

In short, if you’re looking for iron, dig straight down and start mining in the first level found. As long as you don’t see signs of magma that would indicate an igneous extrusive layer, you should be finding multiple sources of iron.

Where to Find Coal in Dwarf Fortress

Exploring underground and mining in Dwarf Fortress.
Exploring underground and mining in Dwarf Fortress.

To get coal/fuel/coke for smelting in Dwarf Fortress, players will have to mine for bituminous coal. Similar to the aforementioned iron ores, bituminous coal is found in veins within the sedimentary stone layer.

From there, build a smelter (or magma smelter if you can) to convert bituminous coal into coke, which can be used for smelting other stuff like iron.

One unit of bituminous coal, when smelted, will yield nine units of coke.


To sum up, that’s everything you need to know on how to find iron and coal in Dwarf Fortress.

The game’s mining system heavily relies on real-life geology, and your best bet is mining at the sedimentary stone layer, which is almost always the first layer after soil.

Now that your colony is progressing, consider checking out our guide on how to get more seeds in the game. They will help by providing additional food, alcohol, cloth, and more.

What do you think about the mining system in Dwarf Fortress? Do you enjoy its relation to real-life geology? Let us know in the comments below.


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