History of ferrous metallurgy

Man has learned to get iron from time immemorial. The use of meteoric iron is the first step along the path of abandoning bronze. From this began the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Archaeological excavations of ancient settlements in the central part of Russia, the Urals, Ukraine, Belorussia, Transcaucasia and a number of other regions show that people already 2,5 – 3,000 years ago were able to receive iron from ores and make weapons, tools and Household goods.

Later, iron was heated in the furnace with a piece of iron ore, which made it possible to turn this brittle cast iron into a malleable metal – into steel, which is quite suitable for the manufacture of useful objects of everyday life, hunting tools, and war. Kostroma metallurgy was replaced by a mountain furnace.

Appearance in the middle of the XIV century. Blast furnaces opened opportunities for a significant increase in the output of metal. Demidovskaya metallurgy knew the iron of iron, domnitsy, and then blast furnaces, foundry pig iron, rolling production. At the end of the XVIII century. The British pulled ahead: there was a crucible melting of steel. The new technology provided for the process under the silicate slag, i.e. Under the broken bottle glass.

It was necessary to find a replacement for charcoal: the development of metallurgy led in time to the fact that in England and Ireland, the forests were virtually destroyed. Even in Cromwell’s time, attempts were made there to smelt blast-furnace pig iron first on a stone coal, which is rich in England, and then on coal coke. Eventually, two hundred years ago, as we say now, coke-oven blast metallurgy was created. The appearance of a blast furnace and a Bessemer converter, which marked a new era in ferrous metallurgy, simultaneously meant the end of the millennial era of “pure” steel and the beginning of a new period – “dirty” steel.

Iron alloying has opened a new era in metallurgy, and therefore, in the sphere of consumption of its products
In the XVI – XVII centuries. In Russia the first ironworks are being created. They are built near the ancient Russian cities – Tula, Kashira, Serpukhov, in the Novgorod region and other parts of the country.

The smelting of pig iron in Russia on an industrial scale was started in 1637 on the ironworks built by the Dutchman Andrew Vinius on the bank of the Tulitsa River (near the town of Tula), near the Dedilovsky brown iron ore deposit. The enterprise consisted of four factories, named Gorodischensky.
The commissioning of the Gorodishchensk factories served as the beginning of the construction of a number of other metallurgical enterprises in Russia. During the XVII century. Two smelters (“blast furnaces”) were built at the Olonets plants and one smelter at Portovoye, Ugodskoye (Kaluga district), Vepreisky (Alexinsky uyezd) and Pavlovsk (near Moscow, near Mozhaisk) plants.

According to the German metallurgist Herman, the total productivity of iron-making plants in Russia in 1674 reached 150 thousand poods.
In the 18th century, after the reforms of Peter I, Russia came out on top in the world in smelting pig iron, giving over a third of its world production. A significant part of iron and iron (30-80%) Russia exported abroad, mainly to England, where the lack of wood sharply limited the smelting of pig iron. Inexhaustible stocks of wood fuel and cheap, in a significant part of serf labor, were at that time the advantages of Russia in the production of ferrous metals. The main metallurgical region was the Urals.

In the Urals and Siberia in a century, plants were built twice as much as in European Russia. If we take into account the factories that were listed among those operating by the end of the eighteenth century, in the Urals they were more than three times that in European Russia.

The huge blast furnaces of the Ural plants had high productivity, so that in 1800 they gave 7071 thousand poods. Cast iron (113.1 thousand tons of pig iron) against 1577 thousand poods. (25.2 thousand tons of pig iron) smelted at the factories of the European part of Russia, i.e. In 4,5 times more.
The number of plants in the Urals continued to increase, although far from unequal, almost throughout the entire century. Another is the increase in the number of plants in the Moscow Region metallurgical region. The increase in the number of plants occurred here until the middle of the century. Then came a certain decline, which lasted two decades (1761-1780), replaced by a new rise at the end of the century.

In the XIX century. Russia lagged behind the smelting of pig iron first from England, and then from France, Germany, the United States of America and even from Belgium. In 1885, the share of Russia in the world production of pig iron was only 2.7%. Import of pig iron to Russia reached 50% of its domestic production. But at the end of the 19th century, together with the development of capitalist relations in the country, the development of the mining industry went faster in Russia than in Western Europe, in part even faster than in North America. During the period 1885-1900. Smelting of pig iron in Russia (within the boundaries of that time) increased from 527 to 2934 thousand tons per year, and its share in the world smelting of pig iron rose to 7.2%, and it took the fourth place in the world. At the same time, the Urals with its strong survivals of serfdom gave way to the South, developing on a capitalist basis with a significant inflow of foreign capital.

The rationalization of production was carried out at an extremely slow pace and could not overcome the completely technical backwardness of the Urals industry. The main obstacle on this path was private property. Thus, the ore wealth of the Hill of Grace before the revolution was divided among several owners. Each of them chose ore more highly and more cheaply, and less quality ores fell into the dumps. The latter were so expanded that they did not allow the extraction of new ores. However, the construction of the concentrator did not promise big profits to the mining companies, and they really could not have come to an agreement. Only in 1916 the first attempts were made to resolve this issue.


Tendencies of development of ferrous metallurgy in the world

1. Move production closer to the sea coast. There production moved from the old industrial metallurgical regions of economically developed countries. In the seaside regional centers and centers, convenience is ensured for the transport of long-range imported raw materials and fuel, as well as the export of products by cheap sea transport. The maritime situation also facilitates the solution of water supply problems in the production cycle and the discharge of contaminated sewage at large metallurgical enterprises. The gravitation of primary industries to lakes and seaside centers in the USA, to coastal centers in Western Europe is clearly expressed. For example, the USA is characterized by the presence of a group of large metallurgical plants in the Porotovy centers on the Great Lakes (Gary, Cleveland, Detroit) and in the coastal centers of the Atlantic coast (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Morrisville), and also on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. In Europe there are large full-cycle metallurgical plants in Genoa, Naples and Toronto in Italy, in Dunkirk and near Marseille in France, in the German ports of Bremen and Hamburg. In economically developed countries, which have significant requirements for metal, this kind of territorial location of metallurgical plants creates favorable conditions for their functioning.

2. Shift of metallurgical production in developing countries. Despite the fact that the main production of ferrous metallurgy is still concentrated in economically developed countries, a shift in metallurgical production to developing countries has become a very important trend in the development of the world’s metallurgy. This phenomenon was directly related to the profound changes taking place in the international industrial division of labor, including the shifting of the production of ferrous metals closer to the main areas of high-grade ore mining, as well as the growing sales market in the developing states themselves. In addition, the “transfer” of metallurgical industries to the developing regions of the world is conditioned by the desire to do without the construction of expensive treatment facilities. It is complemented by the opportunities to use local resources of raw materials and cheap labor. As a result, the major producers of cast iron and steel are now Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, the Republic of Korea, Fr. Taiwan, India, Turkey, etc. The Republic of Korea and Brazil have already outperformed Italy, Great Britain, France, etc. in steel smelting. According to forecasts, in the coming years the steelmaking complexes of the Middle East and other countries of Asia and Africa will continue to expand the smelting capacity Metal, including in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. In the iron and steel industry in Latin America and Africa, high production growth rates are also projected.

3. Shifts due to the use of new methods of smelting. On the shifts in the location of ferrous metallurgy in the second half of the twentieth century. More noticeable impact was the development of electrometallurgy, as well as the development of a method for direct reduction of iron. However, the disadvantages of this technology are increased energy intensity and high demands on the quality of the raw materials used. Enterprises are located in countries rich in energy resources or high-quality ore resources.

4. Shifts towards the creation of “mini” and “midi” -broadcasting. In many countries of the world, not only specialized metallurgical regions and electrometallurgical production centers have emerged that are close to the places of production of “cheap energy”, but also a network of “mini” and “midi” -conductors in areas that were previously deprived of their own raw and metallurgical base. In recent years, such enterprises have emerged in the countries of the Near and Middle East, in Latin America. Such plants are being built in the countries of South-East Asia, in North Africa.

5. The tendency of gravitation of ferrous metallurgy to areas and centers of consumption of metal. It is noted in economically developed countries and is characterized by the formation of a new type of metallurgical regions formed in the zones of developed engineering. An important feature of such areas is the active use of scrap metal as a raw material and the large proportion of enterprises in the incomplete production cycle.

6. Growth in demand for special steel grades. The scientific and technological revolution has led to a rapid increase in demand for special steel grades. But this production is fully concentrated in economically developed countries – the main consumers of such products. This is also characteristic for the location of production of special grades of rolled metal and other industries that require sophisticated equipment, highly skilled labor and sales markets.

7. Establishment of closer industrial and organizational ties between metallurgical enterprises and their customers. An important trend in the development of the territorial organization of ferrous metallurgy is the establishment of closer industrial and organizational ties between metallurgical enterprises and their customers, coordination in the planning of production and marketing, which involves the supply of not just materials but products on the basis of an individual order.

8. The impact of globalization and the transnationalization of the world economy. To a large extent, globalization and the transnationalization of the world economy, as well as integration processes, influence the location of the world’s ferrous metallurgy enterprises and the system of their production links. At enterprises of the largest steel monopolies, the volume of metal is produced, corresponding and even exceeding the amount of steelmaking in many large national economies, for example, countries such as France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, etc. TNCs in their policy base on optimizing the territorial organization of their Production and are located around the world.

9. The influence of integration processes. The expansion of the European Union, the creation of many regional economic unions in various regions of the world also contribute to the policy of optimizing the location of enterprises in the industry. Firms take into account the volume and structure of product markets. For example, the degree of orientation toward foreign markets determines the degree of gravitation of factories to deep-water ports, and the orientation toward the production of products intended for domestic processing increases the gravitation of plants to the centers of machine building and metalworking.

Thus, in the world metallurgy at the present time there are complex processes. Under the influence of the development of the industry in various countries of the world, the production and world market of ferrous metals are undergoing significant changes.