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History of the modern steel industry
The History of the modern steel industry began in the late 1850s, but since then steel has been basic to the world's industrial economy. This article is intended only to address the business, economic and social dimensions of the industry, since the bulk production of steel began as a result of Henry Bessemer's development of the Bessemer converter in 1857. Previously steel was expensive to produce and only used where nothing else would do.
Additional recommended knowledge
Germany has become one of the world’s most important steel-producing nations. The "German Steel Federation" was established in 1874.
Asia: Japan, India, China
The Indian steel industry began expanding into Europe in the 21st century. In January 2007 India's Tata Steel made a successful $11.3 billion offer to buy European steel maker Corus Group PLC. In 2006 Mittal Steel (based in London but with Indian management) acquired Arcelor for $38.3 billion to become the world's biggest steel maker.
In the United States the central figure was Andrew Carnegie, who made Pittsburgh the center of the industry. He sold his operations to US Steel in 1901, which became by far the dominant corporation for decades.
Carnegie's great innovation was in the cheap and efficient mass production of steel rails for railroad lines.
In the late 1880s, Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce approximately 2,000 tons of pig metal per day. In 1888, he bought the rival Homestead Steel Works, which included an extensive plant served by tributary coal and iron fields, a 425-mile (685 km) long railway, and a line of lake steamships. A consolidation of Carnegie's assets and those of his associates occurred in 1892 with the launching of the Carnegie Steel Company.
By 1889, the U.S. output of steel exceeded that of Britain, and Andrew Carnegie owned a large part of it. By 1900, the profits of Carnegie Bros. & Company alone stood at $40,000,000 with $25,000,000 being Carnegie's share. Carnegie's empire grew to include the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works, (named for John Edgar Thomson, Carnegie's former boss and president of the Pennsylvania Railroad), Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works, the Lucy Furnaces, the Union Iron Mills, the Union Mill (Wilson, Walker & County), the Keystone Bridge Works, the Hartman Steel Works, the Frick Coke Company, and the Scotia ore mines. Carnegie, through Keystone, supplied the steel for and owned shares in the landmark Eads Bridge project across the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri (completed 1874). This project was an important proof-of-concept for steel technology which marked the opening of a new steel market.
By 1900 the US was the largest producer and also the lowest cost producer, and demand for steel seemed inexhaustible. Output had tripled since 1890, but customers, not producers, mostly benefitted. Productivity-enhancing technology encouraged faster and faster rates of investment in new plants. However during recessions, demand fell sharply taking down output, prices, and profits. Charles M. Schwab of Carnegie Steel proposed a solution: consolidation. J. P. Morgan and Elbert Gary led the team that worked with Carnegie and Schwab to create United States Steel, by far the largest non-railroad corporation in the world in 1901.
US Steel combined finishing firms (American Tin Plate, American Steel and Wire, and National Tube) with two major integrated companies, Carnegie Steel and Federal Steel. It was capitalized at $1.466 billion, and included 213 manufacturing mills, one thousand miles of railroad, and 41 mines. In 1901, it accounted for 66% of America's steel output, and almost 30% of the world's. During World War I, its annual production exceeded the combined output of all German and Austro-Hungarian firms.
After 1970 the company could no longer compete effectively with low-wage producers elsewhere. Imports and mini-mills undercut its sales. It went into oil then was spun off in 2001. Finally US Steel reemerged in 2002 with plants in three American locations (plus one in Slovakia) that employed fewer than one-tenth the 168,000 workers of 1902.
Bibliography: Labor in Steel industry
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "History_of_the_modern_steel_industry". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|