Industry Articles From Kaempf and Harris

Who Absolutely Dominates The World In Steel Production?


In 2004, China was the top producer of steel, an alloy that makes sheet metal fabrication possible. The country boasted 272.5 million metric tons (MMT), followed by Japan at 112.7 and the United States at 98.9. 

A few years later, Economy Watch predicted that India would be one of the fastest growing steel hubs in the world, but would the premonition prove to be correct? How does each country compared to the glory days of steel production? Here is Kaempf & Harris’ breakdown of which countries dominate the steel game:

China: China has held the title of largest crude steel producer per million metric tons since 1967, according to data by the World Steel Association. Last year, the country produced 803.83 MMT, which is more than 4 times the amount that the runner up delivered. 

Japan: The island produced 105.15 million metric tons last year, which was a drop from the previous 7 years (with the exception of 2009).

India: Economy Watch was right. India nudged out the United States for last year’s bronze placement on the board. The country produced 89.58 million metric tons in 2015, a slight increase from the year prior.

The United States: The US used to be one of the primary sources for steel. The highest point came in 1973, when our country produced 137 million metric tons of raw steel after World War II. Today, our steel production is a mere 78.92 MMT (dropping by almost 60 percent), and more than half of all steel produced in the United States is the result of a process that recycles scrap metal.

Jeff Manual, an associate professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville told Politifact that current economic trends like the decline in oil and gas drilling due to low prices is driving companies to cut back on tubing orders, contributing to a slowdown in steel production. 

Another factor is the labor productivity that it takes to create a steel product. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the 1980s, it took an average on 10.1 man-hours per finished ton of raw steel. In 2014, it took an average of 1.9 man-hours.

Russia: The World Steel Association did not collect data from Russia about their steel production until 2000 when they produced 59.1 million metric tons. Today, they rank in the top 5 at 71.11 MMT of raw steel as of last year.

South Korea: The country boasted 69.73 million metric tons of steel in 2015, which is an astonishing recovery from a measly 0.3 MMT in 1967.

Germany: Germany’s data has not fluctuated much since 1967. On average, the country has reported 40.37 million metric tons of the alloy, peaking at 51.1 MMT in 1980.

Brazil: Though South American country has been decreasing its steel production over the last 5 years, they secured a solid spot in the top 10 internationally with 33.25 million metric tons last year.

Turkey: Turkey has also been on a decline of production since 2012. However, last year’s production of 31.52 million metric tons earned the country a spot at No. 9 in the world.

Ukraine: Even though the country has been on a decline of production for years, Ukraine took the last spot in the top 10 for steel production with 22.93 million metric tons in 2015.

Around the world, steel helps deliver renewable energy, provide projects for healthcare and education, and more. However, not only does it have an international impact, it has a local one, too. As one of the largest industries, we depend on steel for our sheet metal fabrication projects and to keep our trade alive. 

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Topics: Metals, Sheet Metal Fabrication

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