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Dipl.-Kfm.
Tobias Aldenhoff

Foreign Trade,
Raw Materials
and Business Economics

Tel.: +49 (0) 2 11-6707-641
Fax: +49 (0) 2 11-6707-862
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Studies

Conflict minerals - An evaluation of the Dodd-Frank Act and other resource-related measures (Oeko-Institute)

Facts and Figures

Raw Materials

Raw material supply: a lifeline for the steel industry

A reliable and reasonably priced supply of raw materials is of elementary importance for the steel industry in Germany. It is entirely reliant on imports of almost all raw materials. Free and fair access to raw materials is thus indispensable.

Folie3The steel industry is dependent on a sufficient, dependable and reasonably priced supply of raw materials. Two tonnes of raw materials are required to produce one tonne of steel – amounting to 88 million tonnes for steel production in Germany in 2013. The most important input materials are iron ore (40 m. tonnes), steel scrap (19 m. tonnes), and coking coal as well as coal for injection into blast furnaces (14 m. tonnes). The steel industry in Germany is almost entirely dependent on imports or recycling for most of its raw materials. Whereby geological availability is not the central problem affecting the supply situation. Steel producers are particularly exposed to the market-dominating structures of the major mine operators and the protectionist tendencies of individual countries with raw materials.

The trend towards raw material concentration

The industry already takes care to use raw materials efficiently for cost reasons. If one compares the current situation with that of twenty years ago, 10 million tonnes less input material is required for steel production now – and the amount of steel produced has actually increased. The recycling of steel scrap also makes an important contribution towards resource conservation. Almost half the steel produced in Germany is made from scrap. The recycling of about 20 million tonnes of steel scrap in Germany (eight Eiffel Towers a day) conserves valuable raw material reserves, cuts energy consumption and reduces CO2 emissions.

Trade barriers for raw materials are on the march

Ore blending bed at the Port of Rotterdam.
(© Port of Rotterdam)

The increasing number of trade barriers, particularly export restrictions imposed by dominant market players, complicates the supply of raw materials for the steel industry in Germany. Some countries’ strategic policy of protecting raw materials results in wide-ranging distortions of competition on the international steel markets. Trade barriers, regarding steel scrap for example, are currently in force in over 20 countries. This considerably restricts free access to raw materials and leads to a substantial increase in the distortion of competition.