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Steel Companies: Overview and Top 20 List

Introduction

Steel is pretty much the most important material for both construction and engineering right now. Our world would not have most of its infrastructure if it wasn’t for steel. Aside from the fact that steel is widely used as a raw material in many other industries all over the world, the steel industry on its own also enables millions and millions of jobs for people.

Steel is an alloy of several different material types, with two of the biggest ones being iron and carbon (which is why it is quite common to refer to steel as an alloy of the two), and its application can be seen in a lot of elements all around us, including electronic appliances, industry-specific instruments (surgical, dental, etc.), cars, ships, construction elements, coffee machines, refrigerators, and so much more than that.

The importance of the steel industry

From this perspective, it’s rather obvious that steel is needed pretty much everywhere, all over the world, for both construction and many other industries. That assumption might lead you to a conclusion that the entire market of steel production is more or less even in how it’s spread all around the world.

However, that is as far from the truth as it gets since around 90% of the world’s steel production is concentrated in just 15 countries, with China absolutely dominating the rating when it comes to the number of tonnes of steel produced per year. Additionally, if we’re comparing specific companies on the market – as of the end of 2020, 9 of the top 20 steel producers in the world were located in China.

With that being said, technological progress is also affecting the steel industry, just as it has been affecting everything else. The largest iron ore producer in Europe – LKAB – has recently announced about investing $46 billion over the following 20 years to create a method of processing iron that leaves no emissions whatsoever. This kind of move is quite massive for the entire steel industry and other companies now also have the pressure to be more environmentally conscious.

To this day, the steel industry is one of the biggest contributors to total greenhouse gas emission amounts, with steel production producing as much as 7% of the total value. While most of the industry has been rather slow in reducing said amount via some approach or another, there are already solutions being developed out there, and the steel industry looks like it’s going to have to change and adapt in the near future, one way or another.

There’s also the factor of the Covid-19 pandemic that has to be kept in mind, with steel demand tanking and inventories increasing because of that – with China suffering the most because of this, due to their massive amounts of steel produced.

Top 20 biggest steel companies worldwide

The list of the top 20 biggest steel companies worldwide that we’ll be looking for is sorted by steel production volume, not turnover since most of these companies also perform other services within the industry, such as steel fabrication. Additionally, all of the steel production information is taken from the World Steel Association, which mostly includes their yearly lists of top steel-producing companies for a specific year.

1. China Baowu Steel Group

china baowu steel group landing page

#1 on the list of the biggest steel companies worldwide, originates from the biggest steel-producing country in the world – China. Managed to overthrow ArcelorMittal (the #1 steel producing company of 2019) by producing 115.3 million tonnes of steel, which is a massive leap after 2019’s results of 95.5 million tonnes. It was founded in 1978 and has around 195000 employees as of 2019.

2. ArcelorMittal

arcelormittal landing page

As of the end of 2019, ArcelorMittal was the #1 steel company in the world, producing 97.1 million tonnes of steel. Unfortunately, 2020 was not that successful for them, with a result of 78.5 million tonnes by the end of the year, which is why it is now at the second spot on the list. ArcelorMittal is involved in not only steel, but also mining and RnD (research and development), and its headquarters are located in Luxembourg. The company itself is Indian and Luxembourgish, has about 168000 employees as of 2020, and spans all over the world – with plants in Romania, Belgium, Poland, Brazil, Algeria, the US, Ukraine, Italy, Canada, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, and Mexico.

3. Hesteel Group

hesteel group landing page

Hesteel Group is China’s second-biggest steel company, producing a steady supply of 46.6 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and 43.8 million tonnes in 2020. It was founded in 2008 via the merging of Handan Iron and Steel Group of Hebei Province and Tangshan Iron and Steel Group. It has several different subsidiaries in different fields, mostly related to its main product – with mining and iron/steel production being the primary purpose.

4. Jiangsu Shagang

jiangsu shagang

Jiangsu Shagang is the third-biggest participant of the list of China’s steel companies, and it managed to go from #6 (41.1 million tonnes of steel produced in 2019) to #4 (41.6 million tonnes of steel produced as 2020 ended) on our list in the span of a year. It was founded in 1975 and is still considered the largest China-located private steel producer. The product range of Jiangsu Shagang includes slabs, wire rods, stainless steel, zinc-plated steel sheets, rebar, and more. It managed to attract the attention of the entire world in 2001 by acquiring a steel mill in Germany (the Dortmund-Hörde plant, previously owned by ThyssenKrupp), then disassembled it, shipped everything to China, reassembled it there, and started working with it on a regular basis.

5. Nippon Steel

nippon steel landing page

Nippon Steel is the largest steel company in Japan, and it was created via the merger of Fuji Iron & Steel and Yawata Iron & Steel in 1970. However, this Nippon Steel is not the one that we know today since the first iteration of Nippon Steel faced a lot of problems after its creation. In fact, the “present” Nippon Steel is a result of merging its predecessor with Sumitomo Metal and it has technically existed only since 2012. It has just over 100000 employees as of 2019, and it managed to produce 41.6 million tonnes of steel in 2020 (which is still a sharp decline after the previous result of 51.7 million tonnes in 2019).

6. POSCO

posco landing page

POSCO is Pohang Iron and Steel Company, it was established in 1968 and it is the biggest one of all the steel companies in South Korea. It operates two of the country’s largest mills (in Gwangyang and Pohang) and produces a number of different products, including wires, plates, flat steel, long steel, and more. It is also on the list of companies that have seen a rather noticeable drop in the amount of steel produced, with POSCO  going from 43.1 million tonnes in 2019 to 40.6 million tonnes of steel as a collective result of the year 2020.

7. Ansteel Group

ansteel group landing page

Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation is a China-located steelmaker that is headquartered in Anshan, Liaoning and is owned by the government. It is also one of the oldest companies on this list, with its foundation date going as far back as 1916. It is China’s fourth-largest steel producing company, which managed to generate 38.2 million tonnes of steel by the year 2020 (which is a bit of a decline after 2019’s result of 39.2 million tonnes).

8. Jianlong Steel

jianlong steel landing page

Jianlong Steel is a steel company that is considered the largest private-owned company in Hebei province in China. It was founded in the year 2000, and it is also a subsidiary of a massive Beijing Jianlong Group – a domestic private enterprise also located in China. It is one of the few companies on the list that have managed to improve its result from the last year – with Jianlong Steel producing 31.2 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and 36.5 million tonnes of steel in 2020.

9. Shougang

shougang landing page

Another extremely old competitor on this list is Shougang, a state-owned steel company from China that is based in Beijing. It was founded back in 1919, and it has the most experience in the construction and building industries, providing steel structure installation services, industrial equipment inspection, and general project overseeing. We can’t also forget about its steel production, too – with Shougang producing 29.3 million tonnes of steel by the end of 2019, and improving that result up to 34 million tonnes of steel in 2020.

10. Shandong Iron and Steel Group

shandong iron and steel group landing page

As a relatively new competitor in the field, Shandong Iron and Steel Group is a steel company based in Jihan, China. It is controlled by the provincial government and it was founded in 2008 after the merger of two other state-owned steel producers – Laiwu Steel Group Corp and Jihan Iron and Steel Group Co. It deserves its place as the #10 biggest steel producer in the world, offering 31.1 million tonnes of steel as a collective result of the year 2020 (an impressive improvement over the previous year’s result of 27.6 million tonnes of steel).

11. Delong Steel

delong steel landing page

Delong Steel is another example of a China-related steel company, it is located in Shandong province and has been there since 2012.  It has successfully managed to become one of the biggest steel companies worldwide by producing 26.8 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and improving on that result with 28.3 million tonnes of steel as a collective result of the year 2020.

12. Tata Steel

tata steel landing page

Another extremely old participant of this list, Tata Steel is a multinational steel-making company that has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra in India. It has more than 80000 employees and a number of plants in 26 different countries. Tata Steel’s largest plant is located in the state of Jharkhand in the city called Jamshedpur. Tata Steel’s geographical diversity is pretty much unrivaled in the entire world, and it’s also the second-largest steel company in India, producing 30.2 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and 28.1 million tonnes of steel in 2020.

13. Valin Steel Group

valin steel group landing page

The last example of a Chinese steel company on our list, Hunan Valin Steel Co., Ltd. is based in Changsha and was founded in 1997. It provides a large variety of steel plates, steel rods, steel slabs, steel wires, as well as an assortment of copper and aluminum products. It works with both domestic and overseas markets and has a dozen subsidiaries. Its steel production results are also impressive – with 24.3 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and 26.8 million tonnes of steel in 2020.

14. JFE

jfe landing page

Another Japanese participant of this list, JFE Holdings, Inc. is a Tokyo-based corporation that was formed back in 2002 through the merger of two prominent players on the market, one being NKK Corporation, and the other named Kawasaki Steel Corporation. It employs over 60000 people and offers a wide variety of steel-based products, including plates, wires, and more. Its yearly steel-making results are also impressive, going as high as 27.4 million tonnes of steel for the year of 2019, and slightly dropping down to 24.4 million tonnes of steel as a collective result of the year 2020.

15. Nucor Corporation

nucor corporation landing page

A different take on a steel company in this list is the only US-based company so far – Nucor Corporation. It is the largest “mini-mill” steelmaker and the biggest entity that can recycle scrap in North America. It works with over 26000 employees and is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. There are currently 23 steel production mills that are scrap-based, and there are also many different divisions all over the country – with each division specializing in something specific, like bar grating products. It managed to produce 23.1 million tonnes of steel in 2019 and only slightly dropped that mark with 22.7 million tonnes of steel produced as a result of the year 2020.

16. Hyundai Steel

hyundai steel landing page

As the name suggests, Hyundai Steel is a member of the Hyundai Motor Group – one of the largest car manufacturers in the world. On its own, Hyundai Steel is a steel company based in Seoul and Incheon (South Korea), and it’s capable of providing a variety of products, including, steel sheets, hot coils, reinforcing bars, H-beams, rails, and more. It was established in 1953 and is considered the oldest steel company in South Korea. Its steel production results are still rather considerable, with 21.6 million tonnes and 19.8 million tonnes of steel per year 2019 and 2020, respectively.

17. Fangda Steel

fangda steel landing page

Continuing the trend of Chinese companies performing better than most on the market, Fangda Steel is another example on a long list of China-based steel companies. It was founded back in 1999 and has over 7000 employees as of right now. It mostly works in the field of steel production, as well as sales and RnD, generating a variety of automobile parts and building materials as its specialty. It also works in mining, processing and selling when it comes to various minerals. It has seen a massive jump in the amount of steel produced in 2020 (19.6 million tonnes, an impressive feat after the 2019’s 15.7 million tonnes of steel produced).

18. IMIDRO

imidro landing page

Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation – IMIDRO – is the only Iran-based steel company on this list. It includes a dozen subsidiaries in the field and works with steel, aluminum, cement, mineral and copper exploitation. It was founded back in 2001, and it has over 5000 employees working different jobs. Its year-by-year results are still growing at a rather comfortable pace, with IMIDRO reporting 16.8 million tonnes of steel produced in the entire year of 2019 and 18.9 million tonnes of the same resource provided as a collective result of the year 2020.

19. Benxi Steel Group

benxi steel group landing page

Residing in Liaoning province, Benxi Steel Group is a China-based government-owned steel company that was founded in 2010 but has its roots as early as 1905 (as a Benxi Coal Mine). It has several subsidiaries, and is generally considered a rather successful company in the field, scoring 16.2 million tonnes of steel and steel-based products as 2019 ended, and improving that result to 17.4 million tonnes a year later.

20. Liuzhou Iron and Steel

liuzhou iron and steel landing page

Another example of a China-based steel company is Liuzhou Iron & Steel, which is a company that was founded back in the year 2000. It is based in the city called Liuzhou, and it specializes in producing boiler plates, ship plates, rebar products, round steel, die steel, channel steel, angle steel, and so on. As a business, it is rather successful, being #12 on the list of the most productive Chinese companies and producing 16.9 million tonnes of steel products by the end of the year 2020 (which is a good progression after the 2019’s result of 14.4 million tonnes).

Conclusion

The steel industry is a massive entity on its own, with a myriad of applications and a massive part in our day-to-day lives. However, that’s not to say that these 20 companies are the only ones that can work with steel in some way. Just as these steel producers are working with steel to create plates, bars, and wires – most of them also offer various steel fabrication services, which is an entire industry on its own.

A great example of a participant in the steel fabrication market is Levstal – a company that offers a long list of steel construction-related services and has been around since 1991. Despite the fact that it’s relatively young by the industry’s standards, Levstal already has clients from all over the world – including countries like France, Japan, England, Belgium, North America, and more.

About the author

Filipp Levada is the CEO of Levstal Group. Levstal Group is a steel service family company with a yearly turnover of 30 million euros. Since 1991, the company has expanded its services and product range. Today, Levstal is working on large scale projects and has become the market leader in steel structures manufacturing in Estonia. ''We are more than just a steel structures manufacturing company. We have goals and dreams and we know that the best way to achieve them is together. Our mission is to work hard for building increasingly resilient infrastructure while also creating new job opportunities which can have a positive impact on the whole community's wellbeing. For this, we strive to foster strong and dynamic synergies with companies, stakeholders, industries. We are committed to shape a socially and economically sustainable future for everybody.''

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