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Production and consumption

First traded on LME: 2008

Steel is one of the world’s most important materials and is vital to our everyday lives. It is used to construct the buildings we live and work in, the cars we drive and the machines and appliances we use every day such as fridges and washing machines.

The use of steel in some form dates back thousands of years, however the modern era of steelmaking began in 1858 when British inventor, Henry Bessemer developed the first technique to mass produce steel, enabling large quantities to be produced cheaply.

Today's steel industry is a 1.5 billion tonne market, split between the long and flat segments. Billet is a long product and slab a flat product.

Steel is alloyed with several elements in different proportions to cast into semi-finished profiles such as billet or slab. Steel traded on the LME is in the form of billet, which is further processed into finished products such as reinforcing bars, wire rod and structural steel used in the construction industry. Slab is used to produce steel sheet products used in automotive and white goods manufacture.