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), Hebei Iron and steel and Jiangxi Copper Corporation (China), Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and JFE (Japan), POSCO (South Korea), Rio Tinto Alcan (Canada), Rusal (Russia), Tata Steel (India), and ThyssenKrupp (Germany).
China leads all nations in crude steel and aluminum production by a wide margin. Other top steel producers include Japan, the US, India, Russia, and South Korea. Other major aluminum suppliers include Canada, Russia, and India.
The US primary metals manufacturing industry includes about 3,800 companies with combined annual sales of about $260 billion.
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.
Imports make up about one-third of the US market for primary metals. Canada, Mexico, China, South Korea, and Brazil are...