Iron has been known since antiquity. Iron is ubiquitous in the lithosphere as either a major constituent or in trace amounts. In abundance it ranks fourth behind oxygen, silicon and aluminum. By far the most important use of iron is in the making of steel, which is essentially an alloy of iron with carbons and other elements depending on end use.
India is one of the earliest manufactures and users of iron and steel in the world. Literature survey reveals many documentary evidences such as making of various surgical instruments in the 3rd & 4th century B.C. Till 18th century iron and steel making in India was at par with that of Europe in the form of village crafts. The scene totally changed with the invention of the Bessemer process in 1856 and the Basic Open Hearth Process in 1878. These developments led to significant increase in the world steel production from 0.5 Mt. in 1870 to 28 Mt in 1900.
The present annual capacity of primary steel production from the integrated steel plants is placed at about 26 Mt. from the main producers and about 70 Mt in the secondary sector by various processes.
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