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.