The river is navigable for most of its length, and dredging enables ocean ships to go as far asCiudad Bolívar, at the confluence of the Caroní River, 435 km (270 mi) upstream. River steamers carry cargo as far as Puerto Ayacucho and the Atures Rapids.
El Florero Iron Mine
In 1926 a Venezuelan mining inspector found one of the richest iron ore deposits near the Orinoco delta, south of the town of San Felix on a mountain name El Florero. Full-scale mining of the ore deposits began after World War II, by a conglomerate of Venezuelan firms and US steel companies. At the start in the early 1950s, about 10,000 tons of ore-bearing soil was mined per day.
Orinoco Tar Sands
The Orinoco river deposits also contain extensive tar sands in the Orinoco oil belt, which may be a source of future oil production.
Recreation and sports
Since 1988, the local government of Ciudad Guayana has conducted a swim race in the rivers Orinoco and Caroní, with up to 1000 competitors. Since 1991, the "Paso a Nado Internacional de los Rios Orinoco-Caroní" has been celebrated every year, on a Sunday close to 19 April. Worldwide, this swim-meet has gained in importance, and it has a large number of competitors