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Biggest steel producers in the world

Last updated on: February 22, 2012 14:23 IST

Biggest steel producers in the world

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When it comes to steel production, some countries have a clear lead. Let's take a look at the biggest producers of steel, including India, in the world.

China

Steel production (2011): 683.3 million tonnes

Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2 per cent and 2.1 per cent by weight, depending on the grade.

Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten.

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Image: China is the biggest producer of steel. A view of Beijing.
Photographs: Courtesy, Wikipedia Commons
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European Union

Steel production (2011): 177.4 million tonnes

Carbon and other elements act as a hardening agent, preventing dislocations in the iron atom crystal lattice from sliding past one another.

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Image: European Union is at second place. A view of Brussels.
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Japan

Steel production (2011): 107.6 million tonnes

Varying the amount of alloying elements and the form of their presence in the steel (solute elements, precipitated phase) controls qualities such as the hardness, ductility, and tensile strength of the resulting steel.

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Image: Japan is at number three. A view of Tokyo.
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The Unites States

Steel production (2011): 86.2 million tonnes

Steel with increased carbon content can be made harder and stronger than iron, but such steel is also less ductile than iron.

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Image: The United States is at number four. A view of Philadelphia.
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India

Steel production (2011): 72.2 million tonnes

Alloys with a higher than 2.1 per cent carbon content are known as cast iron because of their lower melting point and good castability.

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Image: India is at number five. A view of Mumbai.
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Russia

Steel production (2011): 68.7 million tonnes

Steel is also distinguishable from wrought iron, which can contain a small amount of carbon, but it is included in the form of slag inclusions.

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Image: Russia is at number six. A view of Moscow.
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South Korea

Steel production (2011): 68.5 million tonnes

Two distinguishing factors are steel's increased rust resistance and better weldability.

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Image: South Korea is at number seven. A view of Seoul.
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Germany

Steel production (2011): 44.3 million tonnes

Though steel had been produced by various inefficient methods long before the Renaissance, its use became more common after more-efficient production methods were devised in the 17th century.

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Image: Germany is at number eight. A view of Frankfurt.
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Ukraine

Steel production (2011): 35.3 million tonnes

With the invention of the Bessemer process in the mid-19th century, steel became an inexpensive mass-produced material.

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Image: Ukraine is at number nine. A view of Kiev.
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Brazil

Steel production (2011): 35.2 million tonnes

Today, steel is one of the most common materials in the world, with more than 1.3 billion tons produced annually.

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Image: Brazil is at number 10. A view of Brasilia.
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Turkey

Steel production (2011): 34.1 million tonnes

It is a major component in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances and weapons.

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Image: Turkey is at number 11. A view of Istanbul.
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Italy

Steel production (2011): 28.7 million tonnes

Modern steel is generally identified by various grades defined by assorted standards organisations.

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Image: Italy is at number 12. A view of Rome.
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Taiwan

Steel production (2011): 22.7 million tonnes

It is common today to talk about "the iron and steel industry" as if it were a single entity, but historically they were separate products.

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Image: Taiwan is at number 13. A view of Taipei.
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Mexico

Steel production (2011): 18.1 million tonnes

The steel industry is often considered to be an indicator of economic progress, because of the critical role played by steel in infrastructural and overall economic development.

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Image: Mexico is at number 14. A view of Mexico City.
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France

Steel production (2011): 15.8 million tonnes

The economic boom in China and India has caused a massive increase in the demand for steel in recent years.

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Image: France is at number 15. A view of Paris.
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Spain

Steel production (2011): 15.6 million tonnes

Between 2000 and 2005, world steel demand increased by six per cent. Since 2000, several Indian and Chinese steel firms have risen to prominence like Tata Steel (which bought Corus Group in 2007), Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation and Shagang Group.

ArcelorMittal is, however, the world's largest steel producer.

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Image: Spain is at number 16. A view of Madrid.
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Canada

Steel production (2011): 13.1 million tonnes

In 2008, steel began trading as a commodity on the London Metal Exchange. At the end of 2008, the steel industry faced a sharp downturn that led to many cut-backs.

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Image: Canada is at number 17. A view of Toronto.
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Iran

Steel production (2011): 13.0 million tonnes

Modern steels are made with varying combinations of alloy metals to fulfill many purposes.

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Image: Iran is at number 18. A view of Teheran.
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The United Kingdom

Steel production (2011): 9.5 million tonnes

Though not an alloy, galvanized steel is a commonly used variety of steel which has been hot-dipped or electroplated in zinc for protection against rust.

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Image: The United Kingdom is at number 19. A view of London.
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Poland

Steel production (2011): 8.8 million tonnes

Iron and steel are used widely in the construction of roads, railways, other infrastructure, appliances and buildings.

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Image: Poland is at number 20. A view of Warsaw.
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Austria

Steel production (2011): 8.1 million tonnes

Most large modern structures, such as stadiums and skyscrapers, bridges, and airports, are supported by a steel skeleton.

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Image: Austria is at number 21. A view of Vienna.
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The Netherlands

Steel production (2011): 6.9 million tonnes

Even those with a concrete structure will employ steel for reinforcing.

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Image: The Netherlands is at number 22. A view of Amsterdam.
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South Africa

Steel production (2011): 6.7 million tonnes

In addition, it sees widespread use in major appliances and cars. Despite growth in usage of aluminium, it is still the main material for car bodies.

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Image: South Africa is at number 23. A view of Johannesburg.
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Egypt

Steel production (2011): 6.5 million tonnes

Steel is used in a variety of other construction materials, such as bolts, nails, and screws. Other common applications include shipbuilding, pipeline transport, mining, offshore construction, aerospace, etc.

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Image: Egypt is at number 24. A view of Cairo.
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Australia

Steel production (2011): 6.4 million tonnes

Before the introduction of the Bessemer process and other modern production techniques, steel was expensive and was only used where no cheaper alternative existed, particularly for the cutting edge of knives, razors, swords, and other items where a hard, sharp edge was needed.

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Image: Australia is at number 25. A view of Melbourne.
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Argentina

Steel production (2011): 5.7 million tonnes

It was also used for springs, including those used in clocks and watches.

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Image: Argentina is at number 26. A view of Buenos Aires.
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Czech Republic

Steel production (2011): 5.6 million tonnes

With the advent of speedier and thriftier production methods, steel has been easier to obtain and much cheaper.

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Image: Czech Republic is at number 27. A view of Prague.
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Saudi Arabia

Steel production (2011): 5.3 million tonnes

It has replaced wrought iron for a multitude of purposes.

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Image: Saudi Arabia is at number 28. A view of Riyadh.
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Sweden

Steel production (2011): 4.9 million tonnes

However, the availability of plastics in the latter part of the 20th century allowed these materials to replace steel in some applications due to their lower cost and weight.

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Image: Sweden is at number 29. A view of Stockholm.
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Kazakhstan

Steel production (2011): 4.7 million tonnes

Some more modern steels include tool steels, which are alloyed with large amounts of tungsten and cobalt or other elements to maximise solution hardening.

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Image: Kazakhstan is at number 30. A view of Almaty.
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