Companies in this industry engage in smelting and refining of ferrous and nonferrous metals and include iron and steel mills, rolled steel shape manufacturers, aluminum producers, and copper foundries. Major companies include Alcoa, Nucor, and US Steel (all based in the US), along with ArcelorMittal (Luxembourg), China Baowu Steel Group, China Hongqiao Group, and Jiangxi Copper Company (China), Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and JFE (Japan), POSCO (South Korea), Rio Tinto Alcan (Canada), Rusal (Russia), Tata Steel (India), and ThyssenKrupp (Germany).
Demand comes largely from manufacturers of durable goods such as motor vehicles, machinery, containers, and construction steel. The profitability of individual companies depends largely on efficient operations, because most products are commodities sold based on price. Large companies enjoy economies of scale in purchasing and production. Accordingly, most producers of secondary products buy raw metal from the large producers. Small companies can compete by serving regional markets or producing specialty products. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies generate more than 60% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major sources of revenue for the industry include steel mill products such as sheets, bars, and plates. Other activities include aluminum sheet, plate, and foil manufacturing; copper rolling, drawing, and extruding; and the production of shapes from iron, steel, and specialty metals such as titanium, molybdenum, and beryllium. Iron and steel mills account for about 40% of industry revenue.