Steel and cast-iron products, due to their low price and beneficial properties, are the most widely used among metals; their consumption has become an indicator of the economic development of countries. The characteristics of iron raw materials, in relation to current metallurgical requirements, are presented in the present this article. The globalization of the trade and development of steelmaking technologies have caused significant changes in the quality of raw materials in the last half-century forcing improvements in processing technologies. In many countries, standard concentrates (at least 60% Fe) are almost twice as rich as those processed in the mid-20th century. Methods of quality assessment have been improved and quality standards tightened. The quality requirements for the most important raw materials ‒ iron ores and concentrates, steel scrap, major alloy metals, coking coal, and coke, as well as gas and other energy media ‒ are reviewed in the present paper. Particular attention is paid to the quality testing methodology. The quality of many raw materials is evaluated multi-parametrically: both chemical and physical characteristics are important. Lower-quality parameters in raw materials equate to significantly lower prices obtained by suppliers in the market. The markets for these raw materials are diversified and governed by separate sets of newly introduced rules. Price benchmarks (e.g. for standard Australian metallurgical coal) or indices (for iron concentrates) apply. Some raw materials are quoted within the framework of the commodity market system (certain alloying components and steel scrap). The abandonment of the long-established system of multi-annual contracts has led to wide fluctuations in prices, which have reached a scale similar to that of other metals.