© The Geological Society of London 2015. This review paper examines banded iron formation-hosted higher-grade (.58 wt% Fe) iron ore types present in the two main metallogenic districts of Western Australia, the Yilgarn Craton and the Hamersley Province. The principal iron ore deposits from both districts exhibit variation in ore properties and genesis within and across districts, but also striking similarities. There are five critical elements involved in iron ore formation and preservation: (a) BIF iron fertility defined by stratigraphic and geodynamic setting; (b) Si-dissolving fluid flow; (c) high permeability at a range of scales; (d) exhumation and supergene modification; and (e) preservation of BIF-hosted iron ore bodies by surficial modification, cover or structures (downdrop, overthrust). Several subsidiary or constituent processes are important for the formation of distinct iron ore types and have expressions as (mappable) targeting elements. Deposits in the Hamersley Province record the presence of basinal brines and meteoric fluids, whereas deposits in the Yilgarn Craton, while less well constrained, suggest the influence of metamorphic/magmatic and meteoric fluids. A scheme for BIF alteration related to ore formation in a crustal depth continuum is presented, which integrates pressure-/temperature-dependency of assemblages, fluid-rock ratios and Si-dissolution capability and is a conceptual guide to prospective zones for iron ore.