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The History of Steel

The development of steel can be traced back 4000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age. Proving to be harder and stronger than bronze, which had previously been the most widely used metal, iron began to displace bronze in weaponry and tools.

For the following few thousand years, however, the quality of iron produced would depend as much on the ore available as on the production methods.

By the 17th century, iron’s properties were well understood, but increasing urbanization in Europe demanded a more versatile structural metal. And by the 19th century, the amount of iron being consumed by expanding railroads provided metallurgists with the financial incentive to find a solution to iron’s brittleness and inefficient production processes.

Undoubtedly, though, the most breakthrough in steel history came in 1856 when Henry Bessemer developed an effective way to use oxygen to reduce the carbon content in iron: The modern steel industry was born.

INDIA

The Bengal Iron Works was founded at Kulti in Bengal in 1870 which began its production in 1874 followed by The Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) was established by Dorabji Tata in 1907, as part of his father’s conglomerate. By 1939 it operated the largest steel plant in the British Empire. The company launched a major modernization and expansion program in 1951.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a believer in socialism, decided that the technological revolution in India needed maximization of steel production. He, therefore, formed a government owned company, Hindustan Steel Limited (HSL) and set up three steel plants in the 1950s.

The Indian steel industry began expanding into Europe in the 21st century. In January 2007 India’s Tata Steel made a successful $11.3 billion offer to buy European steel maker Corus Group. In 2006 Mittal Steel (based in London but with Indian management) merged with Arcelor after a takeover bid for $34.3 billion to become the world’s biggest steel maker, ArcelorMittal (based in Luxembourg City), with 10% of the world’s output.