Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon that is strong and inexpensive, making it a major component for buildings, tools, automobiles, trains, appliances, infrastructure, and weapons. Steel is one of the world’s most versatile materials and it can be easily reused and recycled.
In 2019, global steel production increased by 3.4% from 2018. Global crude steel production reached 1,869.9 million tonnes (Mt) for 2019.
Asia produced 1,314.6 Mt of crude steel in 2019, about 70% of all crude steel produced that year. This is a 5.7% increase compared to 2018. Asia was one of the only regions to see an increase in production from 2018 to 2019. The Middle East also saw an increase in crude steel production in 2019 of 19.4% compared to 2018, producing 45.3 Mt of steel.
The European Union (EU) produced 159.4 Mt of crude steel in 2019, a decrease of 4.9% compared to 2018. Crude steel production was down 0.8% in North America at 120.0 Mt in 2019. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) produced 100.4 Mt, a 0.5% decrease from 2018. South America’s crude steel production was 41.2 Mt in 2019, a decrease of 8.4%. Turkey produced 33.7 Mt of steel in 2019, down 9.6% from the year before. Africa’s production was down 2.3%, producing 17.0 Mt of steel in 2019. Oceania produced the smallest amount of steel of 6.1 Mt in 2019.
China produces the most steel in the world every year, producing more than half of the world’s steel. In 2019, China produced 996.3 Mt of steel in 2019. This is 8.3% higher than in 2018. The country’s share of global steel produced increased from 50.9% to 53.3%.
China has approximately 10 times the steelmaking capacity of the United States. Although China has attempted to mitigate pollution by cutting down on steel production, its economy is dependent on steel production and the demand for steel is still high; therefore, the output is increasing.
China is the largest influencer of global steel. Because China has such a dominant market share, a slowdown in the Chinese economy could have a major impact on the global steel industry.
India is the second-largest producer of steel in the world. India’s crude steel production for 2019 was 111.2 Mt, an increase of 1.8% from 2018. This is still a fraction of what China produces in a year.
India’s Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan states that there is no set annual goal for steel production and that individual companies decide on the quantity that needs to be produced based on commercial considerations and market requirements.
Japan is the third-largest steel producer in the world, producing 99.3 Mt in 2019. This is a decrease of 4.8% compared to 2018.
In Japan, the construction sector has the highest steel demand, followed by industrial machinery and automobiles. Shipbuilding has the smallest demand for steel but orders have been gradually increasing.
The United States is the fourth-largest producer of crude steel, producing 87.9 Mt of steel in 2019. This is a 1.5% increase from 2018. The U.S. produced about 8.8% of what China produced in 2019 (87.9 Mt vs. 996.3 Mt).
Over the past few years, employment in the steel and iron industry has seen a decline; however, employment has seen a recent recovery. There are about 83,000 employees working in blast furnaces and steel mills in the U.S. Some of the largest steel companies in the United States are U.S. Steel, Nucor, Steel Dynamics, ArcelorMittal, and AK Steel.
South Korea produced 71.4 Mt of crude steel in 2019, the fifth-highest in the world. This amount of crude steel is 1.4% lower compared to 2018. The South Korean steel industry is the nation’s key industry and has played a significant role in the nation’s economic growth.
Along with electronics, telecommunications, chemicals, and automobiles, steel is among one of the largest industries in South Korea. South Korea’s steel industry has had the goal of increasing self-sufficiency. As a result, South Korean steel exports increased from US$7.6 billion to US$27.7 billion from 2000 to 2016. This made steel 5.6% of total exports in the nation.