World branch of ferrous metallurgy

The structure of ferrous metallurgy is determined by a number of diverse industries, which differ greatly in the nature of the products produced in them, in the technology and technology of its production, in the direction and use both in the country itself and outside it. In the structure of the industry, raw materials are extracted (extraction and enrichment of iron ore, its agglomeration, collection of scrap metal and its preparation for remelting); Semi-product redistribution (smelting of pig iron and blast-furnace ferroalloys, steel and its alloys). Particular, decisive importance is the final redistribution – the receipt of rolled and castings of cast iron and steel. Extraction of ores of alloying metals, coking coal, refractories and other auxiliary materials in most countries of the world is referred to other industries.

Progressive shifts in the development of ferrous metallurgy reflects the ratio of steel and cast iron smelting. The growing predominance of steel smelting is the result of the increased demand for rolling in engineering and construction. At the beginning of the century – in 1913 – cast iron was produced in the world 1.04 times more than steel. In 1950, steel was already 1.67 times more than cast iron, as smelting was concentrated in a few industrial countries of the world. The creation of large-scale production of ferrous metals in many new industrial countries in 1950-1995. Led to a decrease in this coefficient to 1.43 (for developed states, it remains high: in the US – 1.87, etc.). In Russia in 1995 the coefficient fell to 1.28 (in the USSR in 1990 it was 1.4). In China, the acute shortage of ferrous metals, especially steel and rolled products from it, stimulated the smelting of foundry iron, which led to a decrease in the coefficient in 1995 to 0.91.

Raw materials base of the world’s iron and steel industry. Iron ore is the main source of raw materials in the industry. In recent decades, the processes of using ore for direct smelting of steel have been mastered, bypassing the stage of obtaining pig iron, which further increased the role of iron ore in all metallurgical production. Iron ore is taken by one of the most massive types of products of the global mining industry: it yields only to coal, oil and natural gas in terms of production. However, the problems of its extraction, enrichment and transportation are more difficult than these energy carriers.

The reserves of explored iron ores in the world are constantly increasing as exploration works are deployed. Thus, the world reserves of explored and developed iron ores in 1922 were estimated at 35.5 billion tons, and the probable reserves of 98.2 billion tons. In the early 1990s, According to various estimates, the total geological reserves varied from 400 to 800 billion tons, of which 150-185 billion tons were spent on reconnaissance. Thus, despite the intensive extraction of iron ore, comprehending in recent years 1 billion tons, their reconnoitered resources in the world Not only did not decrease, but as a whole they increased significantly.

The significance of individual countries and regions of the world in the common geological reserves of iron ore is not the same. More than 28% of them are in the countries of Eastern Europe, mainly in the CIS (Russia, Ukraine), up to 17% in Asia (China, India), 16% in South America (Brazil) and Africa, 13% in North America (USA, Canada) and 5-6% in Western Europe and Australia. The geography of iron ore reserves by regions and countries of the world does not at all coincide with the need for it for a number of states, often completely devoid of developed deposits of this raw material, but having large ferrous metallurgy (Japan, Germany, Republic of Korea, etc.).

The iron content in the ores of different deposits varies widely: the rich ones include ores with an iron content of more than 50%, to the ordinary ones – from 25 to 50% and to the poor – to 25%. In the developed countries of the world, there are few deposits of rich ores: in Western Europe, such limited ore is practically found only in Sweden (60-65% of iron). The vast majority of the region’s mineral resources are poor. Therefore, many countries (Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, etc.) in the 80-ies. Generally stopped their development. Even France, with the largest reserves in the region, in 1993, curtailed the extraction of iron ore. The quality of extracted iron ore in North America also deteriorated. In the United States, the best quality deposits have almost been worked out and now mostly ordinary ore is used (up to 50% of iron). Only Canada and Mexico still have rich ores (61-63% of iron).

The same situation has developed in the countries of Eastern Europe, where the average iron content in extracted ores in Russia and Ukraine is about 40%. In Asia, rich ore is mined in India (up to 63% of iron), and the PRC is forced to develop mainly its poor ores. Such countries with developed ferrous metallurgy, like Japan and the Republic of Korea, do not have their iron ore resources.

All this predetermined the rapid transfer of iron ore production to other countries of different regions of the world. The quality of the ore there is much better (in Brazil up to 68% of iron, in Australia and Venezuela – 64, India – 63, South Africa – 60-65%). They have large reserves for the deployment of a powerful iron ore industry. In 1938, these countries accounted for only 16% of the world’s total iron ore, in 1970 – 35%, in 1995 – more than 55%.

The new scientific and technical methods of enriching the poor and ordinary ores, introduced in Western Europe and the United States, allowed to improve the quality of the product. Thus, the agglomeration processes involved fine ore in circulation and made them suitable for a high-power domain. But the ore agglomerate is low-transportable and manufactured only in the areas of metallurgy. Much more important for the enrichment of all types of ore was the development of the production of iron ore pellets with a metal content of up to 65-70%. They are distinguished by high transportability and, in addition to the blast furnace process, have found a new field of application – in direct iron reduction. This led to the transition to a broad distribution, especially for exports.

In the geography of the iron ore industry of the world in the XX century. There have been cardinal shifts. Up to the Second World War, Western Europe remained the leading region in the extraction of iron ore: in 1913 – 55%, in 1938 – 40% (North America, respectively, 35 and 20%). After the Second World War in 1950, North America gave 43% of the world’s iron ore (Western Europe 30%). In the 70-80-ies. Three regions came forward: South America, Asia and Eastern Europe with a share in the world production of each of them from 20 to 30%, as well as Australia. Their leadership was preserved until 1995. Western Europe and North America collect iron ore less than one Australia. Even greater changes occurred in the extraction of ore by country.

An increasingly important type of raw material is scrap of ferrous metals. Each ton of scrap saves about the same amount of cast iron and, respectively, necessary for its production of iron ore and coke. The metal fund of the national economy of the developed countries is huge and amounts to hundreds of millions and even billions of tons. Its sources are amortization scrap (scrapping machines, equipment, buildings, etc.); Industrial scrap (metalworking waste) and recycled scrap (waste steel casting). The problem of the formation of scrap resources (collection, preparation for remelting) is one of the main tasks of the world’s metallurgy.

The global scrap market is determined within each country by available resources, depending on the level of development of the economy. These scrap resources are very different in individual countries, but in general they are very large. Requirements for scrap of ferrous metals in the world in 1995 reached 385 million tons. Of this secondary raw materials, 40% of steel was smelted in all countries. The benefits of scrap processing in electric arc furnaces and in oxygen converters increase the demand for it. Therefore, a relatively limited amount of scrap is involved in foreign trade: about 5-7% of its resources.

Production of metallurgical coke. Coke, obtained from coking coal, is a fuel and a reducing agent for iron ore during the smelting of cast iron. Coke is the first cost component in the domain process. It is supplied by coke-chemical shops in the metallurgical or in the fuel industry. Despite the emergence of a new direction for the production of steel in no-coke (or without-domain) metallurgy, the absolute role of coke in the world does not decrease. Its production is forced to create for its metallurgical industry even devoid of coking coal resources of the country, importing them in large quantities.
The achievements of the NTP contributed to a sharp decrease in the consumption rates of coke for the smelting of cast iron. Thus, in 1938 the world average coke consumption per 1 ton of pig iron was more than 1.68 tons, by 1960 it was reduced to 1.09 tons, and in 1990 was just 0.66 tons. Improvement of the quality of iron ore , Improvement of technology and techniques of smelting of pig iron allowed to reduce specific expenses of coke more than twice. Therefore, the combustion of coke from the 70’s. In the world it stabilized at the level of 350-360 million tons, despite the growth of pig iron smelting. In the US and a number of countries in Western Europe, the production of coke even decreased by 2-3 times;

Placement of coke production for 1938-1995. Has undergone great changes. In pre-war 1938, Western Europe, which had coking coal resources, was the world’s leading producer of coke, yielding more than half (55%). After World War II, primacy passed to coal-rich North America: in 1950, 40% of coke in the world. In 1990, Asia became the leader in coke production, 43%, and in 1995 its share increased to 55%. Significant shifts in the role of producers of coke occurred in individual countries: before World War II Germany was separated, after the war until 1961, the USA, then until 1991 – the USSR, and after 1991 – the PRC.
Alloying metals are necessary for the production of ferroalloys, low-alloyed (containing up to 2.5% alloying metals), medium-alloyed (2.5-10%) and high-alloy (more than 10%) steels. In general, compared with the basic metal – iron, the use of alloying metals is small. Among them, only manganese, chrome and nickel produce in the world in quantities of more than 1 million tons each. The remaining metals of this group are used in much smaller quantities, sometimes only hundreds of kilograms. Therefore, the volumes of ore extraction of alloying metals and the production of metals themselves for the deployment of ferrous metallurgy have almost no effect.

Most of the leading states for the production of ferrous metallurgy are not provided with all kinds of alloying metals, and sometimes, like Japan, do not have them. As a rule, they have in sufficient quantities only some of them:

Brazil and Ukraine – manganese, Russia and Canada – nickel, Brazil and India – chromium, China – tungsten, USA – molybdenum. Dependence on imports of chromium, manganese and cobalt or raw materials for their production in Western Europe is 100%, nickel 99, tungsten 70%. In the USA, it reaches 70% in nickel and tungsten, up to chromium 75, cobalt 95 and manganese 100%. Very high availability of these and some other alloying metals of Russia and China, they are, along with the countries of Africa and South America, exporters of a number of alloying metals.

Production of metallurgical complex. Melting of cast iron – an alloy of iron with carbon – the first stage of direct production of metal in the industry. Of the smelted iron in blast furnaces, about half of all steel in the world is produced. Depending on the further use in blast furnaces, smelting (white) cast iron is used, which is used for steel conversion. He accounts for the overwhelming majority of pig iron (over 85%). Foundry (gray) cast iron is an important structural metal, which is used for making all kinds of shaped castings. Products of blast-furnace production are also some ferroalloys, for example, cast iron with a high content of silicon, manganese (ferrosilicon, ferromanganese, etc.).

Blast furnace process – the most material-intensive in the main metallurgical cycle. For smelting 1 ton of pig iron, at least 3 tons of iron ore raw materials, fuel, limestone, up to 30 m3 of water, natural gas, oxygen are consumed. To increase the efficiency of iron production, to reduce the cost of materials and fuel, the use of high-quality iron ore has always been and remains a priority. The economic effect is also achieved by increasing the volume of blast furnaces. This allows you to significantly reduce investment in the construction of blast furnaces, reduce the cost of cast iron, improve the technological process, reduce fuel costs. During the postwar years, the maximum volume of the domain in the world increased from 1500 to 5000 m3. The modern blast furnace is able to produce 4-4.5 million tons of pig iron in one year, which is comparable to cast iron smelting in one of such countries as Austria, Turkey or Mexico.

Complex economic, and especially environmental problems caused large changes in the geography of blast-furnace production. Along with local shifts in the location of factories with blast-furnace workshops (their relocation from the old regions of ferrous metallurgy along the way of import of raw materials to the coastal points of coastal countries), major interregional changes also took place. The main result of such migration processes in certain parts of the world is the diminishing role of the old industrialized countries in obtaining pig iron. For the years 1950-1995. The total share of Western Europe and North America decreased (despite the organization of this production in the new countries of these regions) from 75 to 31% in the world.

Cast iron smelting in the 60-70-ies. Increasingly grew in the process of industrialization of the countries of Eastern Europe, and in the 80-90s. in Asia. The total share of these regions in the world for the same years increased from 20 to 60%. This led to global changes in the geography of ferrous metallurgy. Radical changes occurred in the smelting of pig iron for individual countries: in 1970-1990. The leader was the USSR, and in the 90’s. It became the PRC. Against the background of these cardinal shifts, the role of the rest of the world’s regions – Africa, South America and Australia – changed little. For 45 years, their share in the production of pig iron in the world has increased from only 3.6 to 9%, although they account for 31% of the world’s iron ore and more than 10% of coking coals.

The production of steel is an intermediate stage of the metallurgical cycle. Steel is just a semi-product, intended for further conversion into rental, going directly to other branches of the economy. Each of the consumers presents its technical requirements for the quality of rolling products from different grades of steel. There are ordinary (ordinary), high-quality and high-quality steel. Technical properties of steel are determined by the content of alloying additives and carbon in it: low-carbon, high-carbon (instrumental). The volumes of their production are different, but the output of quality steels is growing steadily. Thus, the world production of stainless steel for 1960-1995. Increased from 2 to 15 million tons, i.e. Grew 3.5 times faster than all steel.

General characteristics of ferrous metallurgy

Iron in all its varieties (cast iron, steel and rolled products from it) was and remains the main mass constructional material in the modern world economy. Having replaced wood in a number of construction industries, competing with cement and interacting with it (reinforced concrete), testing the pressure of new types of structural materials (polymer, ceramics), it still retains the role of leader. The main field of application of ferrous metals is still machine building, where the opportunities for their effective use continue to expand, in particular due to the coating of steel products with polymer films and metals (zinc, tin), increasing their corrosion resistance.

Ferrous metallurgy is highly dependent on many other branches of the national economy. Its raw materials base is the products of the mining industry (iron ore, limestone, refractories), fuel (coking coal, natural gas) and electric power. Non-ferrous metallurgy provides the supply of alloying components for a variety of alloys. The national economy is the most important source of scrap and other wastes for their secondary use in metallurgical processing. Technologically, ferrous metallurgy is closely linked with certain chemical industries (coking coal, the use of oxygen and a number of inert gases in the processes of melting metals, etc.). Large amounts of used raw materials, the receipt of finished products and semi-products cause their mass transportation by different modes of transport.

The production of ferrous metals, extraction and processing of raw materials are environmentally hazardous. In addition to emissions of gases into the atmosphere and pollution of water bodies, many non-recyclable wastes are formed. The most harmful are the carcinogens of the by-product process, blast emissions, gases and dust in the processing of ore, converter and other melting aggregates, slags of all metallurgical operations. The use of large amounts of water, the change in temperature after its participation in metallurgical processes and the ingress of waste products into it lead to a chemical and temperature violation of the regime of natural sources of water supply.

From economic positions, ferrous metallurgy has become one of the least profitable branches of modern manufacturing industry. The development of all its productions requires very large capital investments, which is due to the technology of the products – its large volumes, equipment of enterprises with expensive equipment, the creation of a developed factory infrastructure. At modern enterprises of the industry, up to 15-20% of the total capital investment has to be directed towards ensuring the environmental cleanliness of the work of the metallurgical enterprise. In the developed world, the requirements for environmental safety are increasingly tightened.

The invested capital returns more slowly than in other industries. This investment climate in the industry does not correspond to its role in the industry of any country: the proportion of ferrous metallurgy usually does not exceed 4-7%. The main products of ferrous metallurgy have a relatively low price – from 20 to 400 dollars per ton. This is much less than in any other manufacturing industry. Therefore, there are constant search for ways to increase efficiency through the introduction of new types of equipment, the development of more advanced technologies in all metallurgical processes, computerization of the latter, especially in complex redistributions (domain, rolled).

The way of increasing the profitability of ferrous metallurgy, as the world practice shows, is significant changes in its sectoral and territorial structure, refusal from the traditional combination of individual productions, increasing their specialization, reducing the size of enterprises and the volume of products produced by them. All this leads to large interregional, shifts in the location of the industry and its productions.

The impact of science in the industry is selective, depending on the solution of specific problems and problems in various industries. In the processes of iron ore refinement, the production of metallized pellets became dominant. This improved the quality of ore for smelting cast iron, and the method of direct reduction of iron in general allows you to abandon the blast furnace production. Highly efficient oxygen-converter metal smelting, continuous casting of steel were widely introduced in the steelmaking industry. In the rolling division, the “fourth redistribution”, which significantly improves the quality of final products for ferrous metallurgy, acquired special significance.

Innovative processes have significantly affected the organization of the industry at all levels, and primarily enterprises, having influenced other sectors of the national economy. The production of pellets simplified the transportation of this iron ore by sea and caused a large territorial gap between the raw materials extraction bases and consumer enterprises. The acquisition of high-quality rolled products, with high accuracy of dimensions, has immeasurably increased the circle of consumers of such products, especially in machine building.

The continuous demand of all branches of the world economy for ferrous metals determined a rapid increase in the range of products of the industry. So, if there are only a few dozen types of cast iron and grades, then there are already several thousand. The number of products of rolling production in developed countries reaches several tens of thousands of types, types and sizes. This necessitated their release often in relatively small volumes at highly specialized enterprises of the “fourth redistribution”, intensive foreign trade exchange of such types of products between many countries.

The changed production technology, the types of equipment used, the nature of demand for the industry’s products was accompanied by a large-scale reconstruction and modernization of enterprises; In blast-furnace production the construction of a much more powerful domain; In the steel industry – the rejection of the Bessemer and open-hearth melting processes of steel, old equipment for its spillage. This contributed to the formation of a new composition of enterprises. The traditional combination of all metallurgical operations has become increasingly influenced by the specialization processes of metallurgical plants.

Especially strong influence on the composition of enterprises was provided by the construction of mini-factories with a capacity of 0.1-1.0 million tons of metal products per year. These small and medium-sized enterprises are less capital-intensive, their construction time is shorter, the infrastructure is simpler, they are less employed, they have better environmental production conditions. Such highly specialized factories of incomplete metallurgical cycle usually produce high-quality steels and a variety of complex rolled products. They usually use the resources of local scrap metal for their electric arc furnaces, and the high-value hire they produce varies at home and abroad.

In the iron and steel industry, large companies always possessed the necessary means to invest in the construction of new enterprises and the technical re-equipment of the old ones. They more easily overcome the instability of the world market of ferrous metals, its overstocking, and quickly introduce innovative products. Enterprises of the industry in different countries have different forms of ownership. In some, they are completely owned by private owners, joint-stock companies, in others – by the state. There are also mixed public-private. Often they are jointly owned by national and foreign capital.

Ferrous metallurgy historically evolved as an industry branch with a very large capacity of equipment. The concentration in the smelting of pig iron and steel is particularly great, where the very nature of production is determined by very large aggregates, the capacity of which continues to grow. In rolling production, especially in the final stages of the fourth redistribution, it is much smaller. It is in it that the number of small and medium-sized enterprises that create firms that are little associated with the largest metallurgical monopolies is growing rapidly.

In the era of the scientific and technical revolution, the reduction of the metal consumption of the national economy due to a significant increase in the quality of the metal, the competition of plastics and synthetic resins, and a number of non-ferrous metals had a strong effect on the entire development of ferrous metallurgy and the change in all its branch structures.

History of the development of ferrous metallurgy

Talking about the initial period of using iron in ancient times is almost impossible: the mystery enveloping its origins, does not allow making assumptions, different from the opinion of archaeologists that have developed to date. Gold, silver, copper, tin and bronze were used by man before iron, but it was the advent of the Iron Age, more than anything else, that guided mankind along the path of civilization. The use of the new metal has indeed caused a significant change in the human condition, which, in general, corresponds to the final stage of the prehistoric period.

Not everywhere the offensive of the Iron Age finds an unambiguous and characteristic chronological confirmation; Historical this period was only for the countries of Central Asia and the Mediterranean, coinciding with the existence of the Assyrian-Babylonian (2300-528 BC) and the Persian (800-331 BC) empires and the Phoenician era 2000 – 814 BC) and Greek (2000-500 BC) colonizations.

It is necessary, however, to distinguish between the appearance of iron in the form of small objects, most of them adornments, and the moment of the beginning of its reasonable extraction and use. It was the birth of a real metallurgical industry that became the determining factor in the development of a new civilization based on iron.
Until the end of the second millennium BC. There is nothing to say about any iron production in the modern sense of the word, this applies to the peoples that were part of the ancient civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea: Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians and Greeks. Iron in those days was so rare that it was worthy of use in ornaments along with gold, silver, precious stones and enamels. Each of these civilizations left wonderful products of copper, bronze, ceramics, ivory, wood and even fabrics. As for iron – almost nothing, there is not a trace of his artistic processing.

One could assume that the rapid oxidation of a given metal did not allow any object to survive to our times.

In reality, obtaining ductile iron was such a difficult task for primitive prehistoric metallurgy, which can be said with almost complete certainty that small quantities used in jewelry were obtained by processing pieces of natural iron formed as a result of a geological phenomenon.

In addition, the advantages of copper, its ability to give bronze in an alloy with tin, the external beauty of bronze and the real difficulty of mining and producing iron delayed its use.

The first items from wrought iron were found in the Middle East. In Anatolia, burial grounds were discovered, from which daggers and wrought iron swords, dated about 2450 BC, were removed.

Experts, archaeologists, although they agree that the Egyptians were also familiar with iron even in 3000 BC, maintain that it took a long time before it was used widely enough. Obviously, this already happened by the time of the reign of Ramses II, the third pharaoh of the XIX dynasty, who ruled from 1298 to 1232 BC, in the burial of which axes, daggers and various iron weapons were found.

This shows with sufficient confidence that the Iron Age in Egypt began around 1300 BC. The ore was most likely delivered from Syria, which is one of the first regions in the world to have knowledge of the smelting of ferrous metals. Indeed, the primacy of Asia Minor seems to be unconditional in the spread of the real technology of ferrous metallurgy in the ancient world.

Around 1200 BC. Ferrous metallurgy has spread to the Middle East and the Aegean Sea, and then gradually throughout the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The use of iron, which became common to all the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, spread at the beginning of the first millennium BC. Through Sicily and Italy in Central Europe.
Over the years, slow but steady progress in metallurgy has led to improved furnace design to achieve the high temperatures required to smelt iron from the ore (1,600 °, 600 ° above the melting point of copper, 700 ° above the melting point of bronze). This allowed the man to get at his disposal more iron, which became vital for new civilizations being born.

Gradually, everywhere along with the smelting of copper and bronze, iron ore began to be smelted for subsequent forging and processing. From the people to the people, from civilization to civilization, human experience was continuously and gradually accumulated in the complex matter of iron production.
Furnaces for the production of raw iron were developed and distributed throughout the whole of the West, especially in the areas of iron mines, where the ore, often deposited on the surface, contributed to a reduction in the volume of mining operations and facilitated transportation.

Everywhere and in large numbers, workshops arose where the metal was forged and processed. Blacksmithing has reached a higher quality level, and forged products, which are in great demand, have become available to all.

In addition to manufacturing the working tools required in various fields of handicraft production and agriculture, blacksmithing art has made its precious contribution to military and civil engineering, producing reinforced loops, lattices, loop loops, locks, thus putting the beginning of artistic forging in the modern concept Of this expression.

A man who aspires to refine any product that is an expression of his intellect was not content with giving the iron the forms dictated by the utilitarian purpose of the object, but he subjected the material to forging, twisting, engraving, carving, relief, so that not one, even the most ordinary iron object, was left without Ornaments, and a modest but strong metal turned into an artwork object.

Iron ore and ferrous metallurgy

The extraction of iron ore is one of the major sub-sectors of the mining industry. But since iron ores are used in ferrous metallurgy, this production in many countries, including Russia, is usually considered in its composition. It would be more correct to attribute it to both these branches.
Ferrous metallurgy is one of the oldest branches of industry, including extraction and enrichment of ore and non-metallic raw materials, smelting of pig iron and steel, production of rolled products, ferroalloys and products for further redistribution. Ferrous metallurgy is the basis for the development of machine building and construction, a condition for the technical equipping of all branches of the national economy.

The world production of iron ore depends first of all on the demand that the metallurgical industry makes on them.
The ever greater reorientation of the ferrous metallurgy of the economically developed countries of the West to long-distance raw materials increases the territorial gap between the main areas of extraction and consumption of iron ore.

Despite the fact that iron ore is produced today in 43 countries, about 9/10 of their world production falls on 12 countries – China, Brazil, Australia, India, Russia, USA, Ukraine, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Venezuela, Kazakhstan. Secondly, because of the long economic crisis, which affected the ferrous metallurgy, in the 1990s, Both the overall size and the share of the CIS iron ore industry in the world have noticeably decreased. The same applies to foreign Europe, which is increasingly moving from its own raw materials to imported. In recent years, the already small extraction of iron ores in France, Britain, Germany, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Austria has virtually stopped. Thirdly, in the USA and Canada the level of extraction of iron ores has more or less stabilized. Fourth, in other regions this level continues to grow, and is especially noticeable in foreign Asia, Latin America and Australia. According to forecasts, at the beginning of the XXI century. The main increase in production can be expected in Australia, Brazil, India and Venezuela.

The following nine mining regions in the world can be distinguished:
1) the USA, Canada and Mexico;
2) Latin America;
3) foreign Europe;
4) CIS countries;
5) China;
6) North Africa and South-West Asia;
7) Sub-Saharan Africa;
8) South Africa;
9) Australia.

In all these regions, more than 8,000 deposits of mining and mining chemical raw materials (without fuel) are currently being developed, including about 1,200 large (of which in North America 330, in Africa 215, in Latin America 200, in Western Europe 150 , In Australia – 120). The first and fourth regions have the widest range of mineral fuels and raw materials. As for the development prospects for the next 10-15 years, they are greatest in the first, second, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth regions.

As a raw material for the production of ferrous metals, iron ores and scrap are used. In total, about 1.5 billion tons of iron ore are mined annually in the world, of which more than half belong to China (24.3%), Brazil (19.7%) and Australia (18.4%).

In large quantities, iron ore is also mined in Russia, the United States, India, Canada and other countries. The main exporters of iron ore are Brazil, Australia, Canada, Russia, with the first two accounting for about 60% of world exports. Many countries of the world, including those producing iron ore of the United States, Great Britain, China, etc., import it. The largest importers of iron ore are Japan (annually imports up to 150 million tons), Germany, other European countries, as well as South Korea and the United States. In the world production of steel (1.06 billion tons), China, Japan, the USA, Russia, the Republic of Korea, Germany are leading.

The largest exporters of steel (mainly in the form of pipes and rolled products) are Japan, Germany, Benelux, France, Italy, Great Britain, South Korea. Within the industry there is an international division of labor, as evidenced by the fact that many exporters have also become its major importers.

For smelting steel can be divided into major regions of the world into three groups. The first of these includes the CIS countries. The same group includes North America and Overseas Europe, where the production of ferrous metals, in general, also does not grow. The second group includes foreign Asia, the share of which in world smelting has been steadily increasing over the course of half a century, and to the third group – the other regions, in which neither the downward or the upward trend can be traced quite distinctly. According to all forecasts, this trend will continue for the near future.

Recently, big changes have been taking place in the location of individual ferrous metallurgy enterprises, in the types of their orientation. As before, obviously, for the full-cycle plants, the most profitable is the orientation toward the territorial combination of the basins of coking coal and iron ore.

Extraction of raw materials for ferrous metallurgy

Iron – metal, which can be obtained in pure form only in the walls of the laboratory, creating for this special “greenhouse” conditions. It is very active, instantly enters into chemical reactions with the environment, combines with various elements and rapidly oxidizes. Native iron – ferrite, the formation of which is associated with the solidification of magma, is very rare in the earth’s crust. It contains a small amount of impurities such as nickel (about 2%), cobalt (0.3%) and some copper.

On the territory of Russia, it is found in the Ural steppes and in Kyrgyzstan in the form of minute impregnations in basalts, crystals of such minerals as pyrite and marcasite. Therefore, iron is naturally found in the form of various complex and simple compounds, mainly with oxygen, which are part of minerals called iron ores. These ores are located in the earth’s crust in various ways. Some of them are so close to the surface that it is not necessary to build mines and lay complex communications or erect some underground structures for their extraction. Such ores are extracted by open method. But sometimes the ore lies very deep and in order to extract it to the surface, it is necessary to spend a lot of work beforehand. On the site of large deposits of iron ores, huge enterprises are being built, so-called GOKs – ore-dressing plants, where ore is not only mined, but also prepared for melting.


Not every mineral, not any rock, which contains iron, can be considered an ore. Iron in the ore should be quite a lot and in such a way that it is economically advantageous to extract it from this mineral. The main types of iron ores are: magnetic iron ore (magnetite) – iron in them is contained in the form of magnetic oxide Fe304, red iron ore, or hematite, which consist mainly of iron oxide Fe203, and brown iron limonites (2Fe2O3H20). In addition to iron compounds, the ore contains various impurities – the so-called empty rock. For example, in brown iron ore, phosphates are present, when melting, they turn into cast iron and are highly polluting, red iron ore is usually “spoiled” by clay. The ore loaded into the blast furnace must be “rich” (contain a lot of iron and a minimum of waste rock), it’s easy to give up iron; Pieces of it must be of a certain size. It is also very important that the composition of the ore loaded for a long time into the blast furnace is homogeneous (if possible averaged), since any fluctuations in the composition of raw materials entering the plant from even one deposit lead to a disruption of the usual rhythm, a change in the operating mode of the furnace . All these requirements for the ore, try to take into account in the process of preparing it for melting. Preparation includes crushing, sorting, averaging, dressing, agglomeration and other operations.

Grinding of ore

It is desirable that the pieces of ore entering the furnace are of a certain size (from 30 to 100 millimeters in diameter). If they are very large, then it takes a long time to melt them, it is more difficult to extract (restore) iron from large pieces. In addition, in the blast furnace between the large pieces of ore there are voids, as a result of which the useful volume of the furnace is not fully utilized. Therefore, the ore, extracted in the form of large pieces, is directed to crushing.
Crush the ore on cone or jaw crushers. In these crushers, the ore falls into the space between two very strong metal cones or cheeks. One cone or cheek is mobile, the second is fixed immobile. Like giant jaws, then closing, then breaking, they crumble, “grind” the ore, help improve the “digestion” of the blast furnace. The ore is loaded into the crusher from above, and it is unloaded from the bottom, where it is sorted.

Grind the ore and in ball mills – in huge, welded from metal sheet drums, filled with balls of hard, wear-resistant, alloyed manganese steel. These balls roll, grind, and then rub pieces of ore loaded into the drums. Load ore into the drum from one end, and unload from the opposite. From crushers and ball mills, crushed ore enters the sieves, the cells of which pass only pieces of the right size. Sometimes ore has to be sieved several times. As a rule, not fixed screens are used, but shaken-so-called screens, on which sieving is more effective.