In this issue, AMM is looking back at the careers
of three steel industry giants whose contributions spanned the
20th Century. Some interesting statistical trends emerged over
the course of that century that help tell the story of the
On the raw materials side,
ferrous scrap prices were around $13 per gross ton in 1908 vs.
$367 last year. However, the movement in the value of scrap
(using an annual average of No. 1 heavy melt delivered to
consumers in Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) looks quite
different when examined in constant dollars. In 2012 dollars,
No. 1 heavy melt was worth about $337 per ton in 1908.
Some of the history of the United States is reflected in
the price steel mills paid for ferrous scrap. It turns out that
the highest value for scrap occurred in 1917, when it reached
about $506 per ton in constant 2012 dollars. This coincided
with Americas entry into World War I, which increased
demand for steel and the scrap required to produce it. One of
the lowest points was in 1932, when--in the depths of the Great
Depression--scrap dropped to about $121 per ton. Some of the
consistently highest years have occurred since the Great
Recession of 2007-09.
On the production side, world
crude steel production totaled a record 1.5 billion tonnes last
year, up 1.2 percent from 2011 and more than 5,200 percent
higher than 28.3 million tonnes in 1900. To put that in some
perspective, the worlds population grew 338 percent over
that same time span, the U.S. population increased 312 percent
and estimated global gross domestic product grew about 6,265
Last years growth in crude
steel output came mainly from Asia and North America, while
crude steel production in the European Union and South America
fell. Crude steel production in Asia increased 2.6 percent in
2012, Chinas output rose 3.1 percent--accounting for 46.3
percent of world crude steel production vs. 45.4 percent in
2011--and production in North America was about 2.5 percent
higher than in 2011.
Going back just a decade shows some dramatic changes.
Between 2002 and 2012, U.S. production of crude steel output
fell by about 5.6 percent; but Chinese production increased a
dramatic 275 percent. In fact, Asian production of crude steel
now accounts for about 64 percent of all worldwide material, up
from 44 percent just 10 years ago.