How efficient is iron smelting ?
Wow, that's quite a reading list. Should give me plenty to write about. Thanks very much !
Looks like the Martian mining industry can start off without many problems, if all you -essentially- need to do is heat the oxide. That should enable the Martians to build heavy mining equipment early on, and thus avoid taking too many heavy living/farming habitats with them. That will simplify things tremendously, and leave lots of mass left over to take other equipment, or more colonists.
That leaves the small question of persuading NASA a 4000 ton spaceship propelled by nuclear bombs is a good idea...