Steel emerged as an alternative to standard traditional iron, due to its flexibility, durability, and malleability. Production of steel was a complex and expensive undertaking before the invention of the Bessemer process. The Bessemer process named after its inventor, a Briton named Sir Henry Bessemer, who proposed the use of strong blasts of air to pass through pig iron when molten to reduce its carbon element and subsequently produce steel. Several inventions and technological advancements later and production of steel are now a massive global industry. The making of steel in contemporary age begins with the mining of iron ore which is then smelted in blast furnaces to facilitate the removal of impurities and carbon. There are many grades and types of steel available in the market today classified broadly into Stainless Steel, Alloy Steel, Tool Steel, and Carbon Steel. The top steel producing countries are China, Japan, India, US, Russia, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, Turkey, and Ukraine.
The Top 10 Steel Producing Countries In The World
People’s Republic of China
In 2015, China produced 803.83 million metric tons of Crude Steel accounting for 50.3% of the world’s total production. China is home to the largest steel producing companies which are mostly state-owned such as, Hebei Iron and Steel Group, Angang Steel Company, Baosteel, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corp, and Jiangsu Shagang Company. The rapid development of China’s economy has also made it the top user country’s steel.
Large scale production makes China’s steel cheaper and extremely competitive in the global market. Many countries have attempted to impose an import tax on steel imports from China in a bid to encourage consumption of locally made steel.
Despite its dependence on Iron and Coal imports from the outside world, Japan accounted for 105.15 million metric tons of the global production of crude steel in 2015. Japan has two of its companies ranking top ten global steel producing companies. They are Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and JFE Holdings.Nippon Steel has headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo in Japan with plant facilities all across the country. The headquarters of JFE Holdings is also in Chiyoda, Tokyo. JFE is a corporation with some subsidiaries in several countries engaging in steel production.
One of its primary subsidiaries is in the US, the California Steel. Production of steel in Japan is mainly centralized around city ports such as Kobe-Osaka, Himeji, and Tokyo-Yokohama to facilitate shipping of exports and importation of raw materials.
India produced 89.58 million metric tons of crude steel in 2015. India has come a long way since 1907 when the first iron and steel production plant was established called the Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd. The growth of the steel industry in India has been due to the abundance of iron ore and coal deposits and availability of labor. The steel industry in India contributes around 2% to its total GDP and employs over 600,000 people. Investments and government’s efforts in the steel industry in India are projected to increase the country’s production and become the 2nd largest steel producing country in the world.
The top steel producing company in India is Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd and it is government owned. It is headquarters is in Visakhapatnam in India and has utilized cutting edge technology to ramp up large-scale production and quality assurance. The second largest company is Tata Steel with its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra State. Tata Steel has production plants in 26 countries across the world
Steel Companies in the US produced 78.92 million metric tons of the global production of crude steel in 2015. Production of steel in the US goes back to 1629 when the first plant was set up in Massachusetts. Today, the US is home to over 100 steel production plants in localized regions all over the country. Most of the production is in the Pittsburg-Youngstown with several industries in its districts. Most of the locally produced steel in the US is consumed by the automobile industries in Detroit and Michigan. Major steel producing companies in the US are U.S. Steel, Nucor, and AK Steel. The industry employs over 142,000 people.
Economics and Environmental Effects of the Steel Industry
Other countries with substantial production of steel include in 2015 included Russia, which produced 71.11 million metric tons in the same year, followed by South Korea (69.73 million metric tons), Germany (42.68 million metric tons), Brazil (33.25 million metric tons), Turkey (31.52 million metric tons), and the Ukraine (22.93 million metric tons). Steel is used in different in different industries in the world today and mainly in construction as a primary resource and also in the automobile production industry. Consumer products such as home appliances and kitchen utensils are also made of steel to ensure durability. Steel is used to package materials and transport energy resources such as oil and natural gas. There has been increased awareness in regards to the implications of steel production, especially as it relates to the environment. Iron ore is an element of the Earth’s crust, and the continuous mining causes its depletion. The extraction of coal and emission of greenhouse gases lead to climate change and environmental degradation.