A Brief History of Australian Steel Distribution and Manufacturing

Steel structure


Steel has an important role to play in the Australian economy, with roughly 500,000 tonnes being produced in 2018 alone. As important a role as steel has today in our contemporary society, it has also had a massive impact on the growth of the country.


With Australia being such a large and open continent, the need for Australia to produce steel for railway lines, infrastructure and build industry was dire, particularly towards the end of the 19th century.


Australian Steel Distribution and Manufacturing in the 19th Century


As of the 1840s, the steel manufacturing industry was attempted in several locations around Australia. Unfortunately, a lack of expertise on behalf of the locals and poor quality materials, such as low-quality iron ore and coke meant that these early attempts were marred with failure.


When the Industrial Revolution hit, Australia began to import the bulk of it’s steel from other countries, primarily being Britain. By 1880, the importation of steel from Britain was so excessive that Australia almost completely abandoned any attempts to manufacture their own.


Importing steel proved to be very expensive, especially due to the fact that it needed to be shipped long distances to arrive in Australia. Even after having transported the steel to Australia, expensive reworking and maintenance was required to treat the steel once it had arrived. It wouldn’t be till the early 20th century that there would be a change in the way Australia sourced it’s steel.


The Growth of Australian Steel Distribution and Manufacturing in the early 20th Century


By the start of the early 20th century, steel manufacturing began to expand, thanks in part to the discovery of coal and iron ore mined in South Australia. By the 1940s Australia had atlas four blast furnaces specifically designed for steel manufacturing.


Steel cutting and manufacture became commonplace in Australia and the industry that was built around it began to grow very fast; largely due to the new facilities built to keep up with demand.


The Australian Steel Distribution and Manufacturing Industry Post World War II


When World War II ended in 1942, Australia entered a new period of production where steel sheet was in high demand for domestic whitewoods and the manufacturing of vehicles. As RHS steel pipe and tube became more in demand, the steel cutting became a more common service offered by steel manufacturers.


Australia was primarily an agricultural economy at the time, as a result Australia required more steel than ever to help keep up with the nation’s increasing agricultural productivity. Other areas that were booming at the time, that required bulk amounts of steel included the development of real estate and assisting the growth industry.


Civil projects involving steel became increasingly common. As early as 1936, the Queensland Government commissioned large steel projects, such as the Story Bridge.


Effects of the Australian Economic Recession in the 1980s


When the economy went into recession in the 1980s, steel manufacturing was hit hardest. An excess in production of steel resulted in many steel production sites closing down over the deceased. In response the challenges of the economy, steel producers came up withe ever more innovative ways to improve their practices and generate new technologies to improve the quality of Australian steel.


The Modern Australian Steel Distribution and Manufacturing Industry


Keeping up in a globalised world is not easy, but Australia has maintained it’s reputation as a high quality producer of steel. The quality and strict guidelines adhered to by modern Australian steel manufacturers has led Australian steel suppliers to lead the way in global high quality steel.


Despite high quality steel suppliers producing high quality local steel, there are still many manufacturers that send iron ore offshore to be processed and then returned. The process can be costly and inefficient.


Premium Australian steel is distinguished by it’s strict adherence to environmental and quality guidelines. By and large, the steel industry works in conjunction with the Australian Government to make sure that steel manufacturing and steel cutting in Australia gets the right opportunities to grow.


Although steel is able to recycled endlessly, the manufacturing of steel creates great amounts of waste. Since the 1990s, companies have been looking for ways to decrease the footprint


The Australian steel industry looks like it set to still play a key role in the development of the overall economy. Despite the challenges of keeping Australian steel competitive in the face of environmental concerns, steel manufacturing has still remained innovative and maintained their overall quality.

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