The features of the most important regions of ferrous metallurgy are clearly revealed when analyzing the structural and geographic shifts in the industry. There have been profound changes in the structure of its individual productions. The main trends are the improvement of the quality of the products (and correspondingly the prices) of all metallurgical operations, the reduction of energy and other costs for its production. At the same time, the demand for an ever wider range of final stages of the metallurgical cycle is continuously growing. There was a refusal of development of deposits of raw materials of poor quality, the transition to the creation of small-capacity enterprises instead of traditional large-scale plants.
In the developed countries of the market economy, the recovery and the rise of the industry in the first post-war decades were followed by deep recessions in the 1970s and 1980s. They were the result of oil crises of those years, which sharply reduced the demand for metal. In these countries, steel smelting in some years decreased by 60-70 million tons, which corresponds to the level of its production in the state with the largest metallurgical industry.
Western Europe – the oldest region of the world’s metallurgical industry – remains one of the leading in the level of development of the industry. Having exhausted his limited resources of raw materials or refusing to extract low-quality ore, he was forced in the post-war years to begin a broad structural overhaul of his ferrous metallurgy. The main areas and centers of the industry in Germany, France, Great Britain, in addition, experienced a heavy environmental burden of metallurgical enterprises. As a result, for the years 1938-1995. The share of Western Europe in the world in smelting pig iron decreased more than twice (from 48 to 19%), and steel from 42 to 21%. The share of coke has declined particularly from 55% to 11% in the world, and mining of iron ore tenfold (from 40% to 4%).
As a result of structural changes, a new specialization of most of the countries of the region has now taken shape: on obtaining high-quality steels (for example, Western Europe produces almost 1/2 stainless steel) and manufacturing a variety of, including precision, rolled products for powerful engineering (about 20% Weight in the world and up to 25-27% at its cost). All this led to the formation of a new geography of the region’s ferrous metallurgy, which was most clearly manifested in the territory of its large countries. Among them, the leaders were replaced: along with the FRG, the leading in the industry was Italy, which does not have any kinds of raw materials and fuel for obtaining metal. In total, both countries account for more than two-fifths of the smelting of pig iron and steel in the region.
The role of North America in the world’s iron and steel industry is determined by the United States. With considerable resources of iron ore, some types of alloying metals and abundant coking coal reserves, the country has for many decades experienced no difficulties in the development of the industry. A number of alloying metals it supplies Canada. Constant demand for ferrous metals was shown by metal-intensive branches of machine building, especially transport, a wide scope of construction, laying of roads, etc. It greatly increased during and after the Second World War in connection with the deployment of weapons production.
Having occupied in those years the leading positions on the level of development of the industry in the world, the region retained its leadership during several postwar decades. Thus, the USA held the world championship in the extraction of iron ore until the 1950s, in obtaining coke and pig iron up to the 60’s, and in steel smelting up to the 70’s. The change in the role of the United States and the region as a whole in the world was due to the structural reorganization of the industry, which raised it to a new high technological, technical and organizational level. Using the achievements of scientific and technical progress allowed to overcome the decrease and deterioration of the quality of own resources of raw materials, to achieve effective use of imported long-range iron ore. The import of cheap cast iron and rolled products from Mexico and other countries of different regions also increased sharply.
In the US, for the first time, the creation of miniature and midi factories in the industry began – in 1996 they smelted 42% of steel in the country. Technical and technological policy led to the elimination of open-hearth production, given the size of the industry, later than in other countries, but the share of obtaining electric steel is higher (39%) than in Germany or Japan. Structural shifts were accompanied by a decrease in the production of metal, but this was offset by an increase in its quality. In this regard, the role of the region in the world metallurgy has changed: for 1950-1995. Its share fell on iron ore from 43 to 16%, on coke from 41 to 8%, on cast iron from 47 to 12% and steel from 48 to 16%. The US began to reduce the production of ordinary grades of rolled metal, importing it both from neighboring countries, and from China, Europe.
The current stage of the development of the world’s ferrous metallurgy is characterized by the rapid growth of the industry in a number of countries in Asia and South America that have embarked on the path of rapid industrial development. They become powerful competitors of the countries of Western Europe, the USA.
Asia has become the leading region of the world’s ferrous metallurgy in terms of the volume of receipt of all the main products of the industry. Japan, and after it the PRC, the Republic of Korea, India and Fr. Taiwan made a powerful breakthrough in its development. In 1995, all the states of the region cumulatively provided 50% of coke in the world, almost 45% of pig iron, up to 40% of steel and rolled products. China and Japan are the world’s largest producers of ferrous metals. However, the level of development of the industry is very different in individual countries. Thus, Japan received steel per capita (800 kg in 1995) far ahead of all the large states of Western Europe and the USA. China has not reached even a low world average of 125 kg. This remains an important stimulus for the growth of the industry in China and other newly industrialized countries in Asia.
In the region there are various types of raw materials and fuels for the ferrous metallurgy. However, the degree of their security is not the same for individual countries, but for Asia as a whole. The PRC has very large resources of coking coal and a number of alloying, as well as dispersed metals. However, its iron ore is mostly of poor quality. India has deposits of rich iron ores, there are resources of coking coal and a number of alloying metals. Japan is virtually devoid of all kinds of metallurgical raw materials and fuel to ensure its metallurgy. The countries of the region can to a certain extent mutually cover their needs in these types of raw materials and fuel. However, the already achieved volumes of obtaining ferrous metals are so great that they require the attraction of the missing resources from outside.
The peculiarity of the macrostructure of metallurgy in the region is the greater role of the primary stages of the cycle (extraction of iron and alloys of alloying metals, production of coke). This is the cheapest product in the industry, which prevails in China and India. In Japan, the Republic of Korea, on about. Taiwan, based on imported raw materials and fuel, there were powerful final stages of metallurgy – steel smelting and the manufacture of rolled metal. Strong differences in the production of cast iron and steel:
In the PRC until 1995, pig iron received more than steel (this indicates the far from completed structure of the industry); In the Republic of Korea, on the contrary, steel was smelted 1.7 times more than cast iron.
The technical and technological levels of ferrous metallurgy vary greatly across the countries of the region. So, Japan already in the early 70’s. Completely stopped the open-hearth production, and the PRC in 1996 still smelted up to 15% of steel in this way. Well supplied with fuel, the world’s second largest producer of electric power, China receives only 22% of electric steel in electric furnaces, while Japan deprived of energy resources – 32%. These figures are even higher in the Republic of Korea – 38% and on about. Taiwan – 47%. Among these new producer countries, China took a special place, breaking out into the world leaders in the combustion of coke, smelting of pig iron in 1991-1993. And steel smelting in 1996. Such a new industrial country as the Republic of Korea in terms of the level of development of the industry has surpassed any of the countries of Western Europe, except for Germany. At the same time, the Republic of Korea has noticeably approached the latter on receipt of pig iron and steel and has overtaken on coke
In Eastern Europe, the CMEA member countries in the 1960s. Made the first breakthrough in the world’s ferrous metallurgy, significantly overshadowing the western regions in this industry branch. Already in 1970 the region extracted iron ore, received coke, pig iron and steel ahead of both North America and Western Europe. In subsequent years, the growth of the steel industry of Eastern Europe was even more significant. For the production of steel per capita, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the USSR and Poland were 1.5-2 times higher than France, Britain, Italy or the USA. The USSR came out on top in the world in smelting of ferrous metals, having reached the highest development index for the country in the history of the industry; In 1988 it was smelted 115 million tons of pig iron, 163 million tons of steel, 21 million tons of pipes were produced.
The transformation of Eastern Europe into the leading region of the world’s black metallurgy in terms of the volume of production of the industry was facilitated by:
1) close economic cooperation among the CMEA member countries on the basis of joint planned activities in the iron and steel industry;
2) great demand for the industry’s products in engineering, construction;
3) complete provision of the region with raw materials and fuel, primarily through their supply from the USSR, and the use of resources of each of the CMEA countries.
However, with rapid growth in the volume of production of metallurgical products, the cardinal structural transformations of the industry lagged behind. The introduction of new technology and innovative technologies lagged behind. For example, in the largest country in the region – in the USSR, steel smelting in oxygen converters in 1988 was 34% (in the USA – 58%), in electric furnaces 13% (in the USA – 37%), continuous casting of steel 17% (in the USA – 60%). In a number of Western European countries, these indicators were even higher than in the United States,
The collapse of the USSR and the CMEA led to the disintegration of the countries of Eastern Europe. This caused great damage to their metallurgy: production volumes fell several times in each of them. Thus, steelmaking in the Russian Federation (51 million tons, 1995) fell to the level of its production in the RSFSR in 1965, i.е. The country was abandoned 30 years ago. Ukraine’s steel smelting has fallen to the level of 1959. The general state of ferrous metallurgy is characterized by low utilization of production capacities (65-70%), high equipment wear (50-60%) and low profitability, which is 4-5%. This is the result of a sharp decline in investment in the industry.
Developed capitalist states restored their former leading positions in the world’s ferrous metallurgy. This was particularly noticeable in the smelting of steel and the receipt of rolled metal, i.e. The most important products of the industry.
Foreign trade in ferrous metallurgy goods. The role of the industry in global exports is small – about 3%. This is due to the low level of prices for its goods. Feature of the industry: raw materials (iron ore and alloying metals) and final products (rolling) are also exported. The role of intermediate products of metallurgy is low. In 1995, exports accounted for 45% of the world’s iron ore (400 million out of 890 million tonnes), rolled more than 20%, and cast iron only 2%. Brazil and Australia accounted for 65% of the world’s total exports of iron ore. Of the 640 million tons of manufactured rolled products in the world, about 140 million tons were exported. A wide (most often intraregional) trade exchange of different types of rolled products was formed. Excessive rentals were Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia (especially the PRC) and North America (USA) are scarce.