1. Steel Based Industrial Regions
    1. USA, Great Lakes-Pittsburg region
    2. Canada: St Lawrence Valley
    3. Germany, Ruhr Valley
    4. Britain: Birmingham, Midlands
    5. Sweden, Central region
    6. CIS: Ural region
    7. China: Steel industry
    8. China: Backyard Furnaces
  2. Integrated vs Mini steel plants
  3. Desi (Indian) Steel Plants
    1. TISCO, Jamshedpur, Bokaro
    2. Durgapur, Burnpur
    3. Rourkela, Bhilai
    4. Steel Plant: South India
      1. Vishveshwarya, Karnataka
      2. Salem, TN
      3. Vishakhapatnam, AP
  4. Secondary industries
    1. Heavy engineering industry
    2. Machine tools
    3. Light engineering industry

In the previous article, we saw the geographical factors affecting the location of iron and coal industry. Now moving to the next topic:

Steel Based Industrial Regions

  • Since most of the coalfields are located in the middle-latitudes=> iron-steel industry developed here.
  • Since steel is the raw material for many secondary industries (heavy/light engineering, machine tools, automobiles etc.). => Important industrial regions of the World usually found @middle latitudes.
  • On the other hand, tropical belt doesn’t have any significant coalmines => hardly any industries belts.
  • Africa doesn’t have coal or iron ore (Except some parts of S.Africa)=> hardly any industrial development.
  • anyways, let’s check out a few Videsi  steel based industrial regions (list not exhaustive)

USA, Great Lakes-Pittsburg region


Factor impact
Raw Material
  • Good-quality Coke from Pennsylvania
  • iron ore from the mines Lake Superior region
  • Limestone from Lake Huron, Appalachian Mountains
  • cooling water =from local rivers and lakes
Energy Coal locally available and hydroelectric power from Niagara falls (Cleveland)
water4cooling lake Erie etc.
Transport St Lawrence seaway facilitates transporting raw material and finished products
Labour Large population with diversified skills, due to years of “brain gain”
market4steel The region has diversified industrial activities, one feeding raw material to other.for example

  1. Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland= iron, steel and machineries
  2. Pontiac and Flint = car spare parts
  3. Detroit= automobile
  4. Chicago=railways (+ beef industry as we saw in earlier article under Geography series.)

Canada: St Lawrence Valley

Raw Material
  • iron ore from steep rock, Québec Ontario
  • coal from the Appalachian region
  • softwood from the coniferous forests
Energy Hydro electricity from Québec
  1. cheap water transport to great Lakes and St Lawrence River
  2. Canadian pacific railway
market4steel Machine building for paper-pulp and lumber industry + shipbuilding

Germany, Ruhr Valley

Raw Material
  • Saxony coalfield
  • iron ore from Bavaria, France, Spain and Sweden
  • Ruhr river
  • Rhine river=inland water transport + access to sea
market4steel Dusseldorf=automobile hub, Volkswagen, Mercedes etc.Ship building industry in Hamburg

Britain: Birmingham, Midlands

Raw material Staffordshire, Warwickshire coal field.Although, nowadays iron smelting industry moving towards coastal locations for imported iron ore.
Transport Central location=>Dense network of railroads.
  1. Automobile: Coventry= HQ of British Leyland company. Cars, coaches and trucks.
  2. Light engineering: region makes anything from a pin to a battleship, but specializes in smaller metal goods manufacture: nails, locks, keys, brassware and jewelry. Staffordshire coal field has long supported this thriving metallurgical industry

Sweden, Central region

Raw Material Sweden has one of the richest iron ore resources of Europe. Although they mostly rely on German pig iron as we saw earlier, due to lack of coking coal.
Energy Mountainous terrain + fast flowing river= abundant hydroelectric power (HP).Cheap HP=electric furnaces @steel plants, and electro-chemical industries.
  • Goteborg, the premier port, shipbuilding centre
  • Stockholm’s connected to Gotebore via Gota Canal = easy transport and export of engineering products.
  • Other industrial towns well connected by railways, roads and inland waterways.
Market4steel Volvo cars, bofors guns, Electrolux refrigerators etc.

CIS: Ural region

Raw material
  • Ural=rich iron ore deposit
  • Kuznetsk basin in Western Siberia = rich coal deposits- sent to Ural region by Railways.
  • The returning wagons after emptying coal, bring iron ore from Ural region. Thus iron-steel industry developed @both places.
  • This is known as Ural-Kuznetsk combine.
Energy Volga River= Kuybyshev dam= hydroelectric power
Transport trans-Siberian Railway
Market4steel Agricultural machinery, because Agriculture developed in Central Volga region.

China: Steel industry

In the late 19th century, in Britain, the coal production and urban industrial growth occurred parallel. Same story repeating in China.

During Mao’s era,

  • The railways was in nascent stage and lacked the capacity to move massive quantities of coal to industrial areas.
  • Various regions of China did not have interconnected electricity grid.
  • Therefore, many industrial regions were setup in North, near the coal mines.

map-China steel industry

  1. Manchuria
  • steel industry was setup by Japanese colonialists (after Sino-China war, Japan had occupied this region)
  • Coal from Fushan.
  1. Northern China
  • Around Shantung and Beijing.
  • Coal from Shantung and Shensi.
  1. Yangtze Valley
  • Runs along with the Yangtze river, Around Chongqing, Wuhan etc.
  • Coal from Chongqing + hydro electricity from Yangtze river.
  • Iron ore deposits on South of Yangtze River.
  • Yangtze river itself provides cheap inland transport.

China: Backyard Furnaces

  • At the end of 1950s, Chairman Mao had started a campaign called “Great Leap forward” with the aim to transform agrarian Chinese economy to industrialized economy (similar to Russia).
  • One of the tool under “great leap forward”=backyard furnaces.
  • Mao had ordered each commune, to setup small furnace and produce steel using local wood-charcoal and metal scrap. But this communist-experiment was an epic fail. Because:
  • Peasants did not have the skills for metallurgy, work was done in haste, sometimes villagers would just melt their kitchen utensils and product an unusable metal lump meet ridiculously high steel production ‘targets’ given to each commune.
  • Although Mao wanted to “double” the National steel production, But result was:
  1. Steel produced by such backyard furnaces was very weak and non-uniform in quality. If you made any machinery or building with this substandard steel, it would breakdown in a few years.
  2. Farm laborers were shifted to collect scrap-metal and cut jungles for charcoal=>agro productivity declined and led to famines in later years.
  3. Forests were cut down to make charcoal => environment problems, soil erosion etc.

before going into Desi steel industry, let’s understand the difference between

Integrated vs Mini steel plants

What’s the difference?
Integrated steel plant Mini steel plant
handles everything in one complex –

  • from processing raw material, making the Coking coal,
  • blast furnaces, production pig iron,
  • steel & other alloys,
  • even upto final rolling and shaping of ingots and rods.
  • Runs on electric furnaces.
  • input=scrap metal, sponge iron
  • Located near industrial towns for recycling the waste metal. e.g. in Maharashtra
takes years to construct an integrated steel plant Low gestation period.
in India, they’re concentrated in Damodar Valley region (Eastern India) They’re usually away from areas having integrated steel plants (Western India), to meet local demands + to avoid competition from integrated steel plants of the East.

Indian Steel Plants

Note: maps for most of the following steel plants are given on page 88 and 89 of NCERT Class 11 (India People and Economy), do refer to it.

Factor TISCO, Jamshedpur Bokaro, Jharkhand
Iron ore
  • Noamundi-Singhbhum, Jharkhand
  • Mayurbhanj, Odisha
  • Both within 100 kms radius
  • Noamundi in Jharkhand
  • Kiriburu, Odisha
  • Jharia, Raniganj
  • Both within <200 kms radius
  • Jharia Mines just 65 kms away
  • Sundargh district, Odisha
  • Maganese from Joda mines, Keonjhar, Odisha
  • dolomite from Palamau
  • Hydroelectricity  from Damodar Valley corporation
Water for cooling
  • Via pipelines from Subarnarekha and Kharkhoi rivers
  • Damodar river
Labour Abundant supply of Cheap labour  from Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and the tribal belt of Chhota-Nagpur platteau.
  • Railway connectivity to Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai
  • rail-water connectivity to Kolkata, just 300 kms away
  • Secondary industries located in the region that use steel to manufacture machine tools, automobiles, agro-machines, tine-plates, wires etc.
  • TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive company) produces
  • Consumer cars /SUVs like sumo, safari, indica, sierra etc. and heavy vehicles, including armored carriers for army.
  • sludge-slag from the plant provides raw material to Sindri fertilizer industry.
  • produces crude steel and pig iron
  • Setup in 1907, just two years after Lord Curzon partition Bengal.
  • TISCO =Tata Iron and Steel company
  • TISCO plant wasn’t setup by Jamshedji Tata but his son Sir Dorabji Tata
  • Manganese is used for hardening steel.
  • with Soviet help in ‘72

Moving to the next two Indian steel plants:

Factor Durgapur, WB Burnpur, WB
Iron ore
  • Singhbhum, Jharkhand
  • Kendujhargah, Odisha
  • Mayurbhanj, Odisha
  • Singhbhum, Jharkhand
  • Mayurbhanj Odisha
  • Raniganj, WB
  • Jharia, Jharkhand
  • Jharia, just ~130 kms away
  • Birmitrapur, Odisha
  • Managanese: Bonaigarh, Barbil in North Odisha
  • Sundargarh, Odisha, just ~300 kms
Energy Damodar valley
Water for cooling Damodar river
Labour No shortage of cheap labour.
  • plant on the main railwayline between Delhi-Kolkata
  • Navigable Canal from Durgapur to Hugli and Kolkata Port
  • good rail connectivity sea ports @Odisha + Kolkata
  • pig iron, tools, alloys, light structural products
  • rails, galvanized steel, billets
  • ’64 with collaboration from UK
  • initially a private plant, nationalized in ‘72

Moving to the next two Indian steel plants:

factor Rourkela, Odisha Bhilai, Chhattisgarh
Iron ore
  • Sundargarh, Keonjar District of Odisha
  • within radius of ~70kms
  • Dugar, Chandrapur and Bastar
  • Dalli-Rajhara range 80km away
  • Jharia,
  • Telchar,
  • Korba
  • Korba, Chhatisgarh (~225kms)
  • Bokaro, Jharia (~720 kms)
  • Raniganj, WB
  • Birmitrapur
  • Nandini mines ~25 kms away
  • Manganese from Balaghat (MP) + Bhandara (MH)
  • Barajmda
  • Balaghat
  • Hirakud (just 150 kms away)
  • Korba Thermal station
Water for cooling
  • Bramani river
  • reservoir on Mandira Dam (Sankh River)
  • Tandula Reservoir
Labour cheap labor available.
  • Both connected to Kolkata Nagpur Railway
Market provided special steel for

  • ISRO’s launch vehicles
  • Vijayenta tanks
  • building Mathura refinery
  • itself uses steel to make rails, beams and other structural products.
  • setup in ‘59, With help from West Germany
  • first Swadeshi steel plant
  • with help of former USSR, 1959
  • Main location factor= Government policy to setup plant here, to remove backwardness of this region.

Steel Plant: South India

factor Vishveshwarya, Karnataka Salem, TN
Iron ore
  • just 40kms away Baba Budan hills, in Chikmanglur.
Bailadila mines, Odishalocal iron ore also available- has low phosphorous-sulfur content=>helps making special grade Iron and Steel.
  • Bhundiguda
  • Manganese: Shimoga, Chitradurga just 50kms away
Either imported or brought from Jharkhand depending on price factor
  • available within 50km radius
  • In early days, used charcoal from forest wood.
  • now uses hydroelectric power from Sharawati and Mahatma Gandhi project
Mettur has both thermal and hydro projects
Water for cooling
  • Bhadra river
don’t know and too tired to google
  • located on main railway line of Biru-Shimoga.
Chennai port
  • billets, rails, wheels alloy steel and sleepers for railways.
Salem steel is useful in TN’s automobile industry, elevators, lifts, coins, ceiling fans.Also caters Government mints (for making coins).
  • In 1923 as private company “Mysore Iron and Steel”. Nationalized in ‘89
Started in 82. Location chosen due to political considerations.

Vishakhapatnam, AP

Iron ore Bailadila, Chhattisgarh
Coal Damodar Valley, Jharkhandalso imports metallurgical coal from Australia
Limestone From MP, Odisha, Chhattisgarh
Energy Natural gas from Krishna-Godavari Basin
Transport Vishakhapatnam itself a Port= rail connectivity with other states.+ helps in import of raw material and export of final products.
trivia First shore based plant of India.

Secondary industries

  • these industries rely on the raw materials produced by other industries
  • therefore seconded industries are often located near the companies which make their raw material industry, for example
industry located near
  1. Heavy engineering
steel factories
  1. petrochem / synthetic fibers
crude oil refineries

Engineering industries

engineering Light Heavy
examples kitchen utensils, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and variety of home and office appliances. shipbuilding, railway wagons, hydro turbines, thermal generators, transformers etc.
location Can afford to transport steel over longer distances and therefore scattered in distribution. Need large quantities of steel => located fairly close to iron-steel industry to reduce transport cost.

Heavy engineering industry

They require:

  1. huge amount of power
  2. large capital investment
  3. skilled labor

But main factor is: transport cost for heavy and bulky raw material (steel)=> Heavy engineering industry is usually located near steel plants.

Earlier we saw that steel plants themselves are located in the Damodar Valley and surrounding region (WB, Odisha, Jharkhand) for easy availability of iron ore, limestone, coking coal, energy and cooling water. Now let’s see examples of how heavy engineering industry is also located in the same region, because of those steel plants.

Place Heavy Industry
Jharkhand Heavy engineering Corporation Ltd in Rachi. They make blast furnaces for steel plants, heavy crushing and grinding equipment, rolling mills, rigs for oil wells
  • Durgapur: heavy engineering factory for mining equipment
  • Chittaranjan Locomotives: steel from Durgapur (~70 kms) and hydroelectricity from Damodar Valley.
  • Textile machinery Corporation has more than 60 units in Kolkata-Howrah region, for assembling jute mill machineries
  • machineries for paper Mills are manufactured @Rourkela
  • Thanks to Salem steel plant
  • factories for agricultural, mining machinery: earthmovers, excavators, bulldozers, power readers, threshers, harvesters, cutters, tractors

For the list of heavy industries in Foreign countries, we already saw the examples in those industrial region tables above.

Machine tools

Unlike heavy engineering industry, the machine tool industry doesn’t need to be right besides steel plants. Proximity to market and skilled labor = deciding factors. For example:

HMT Hindustan Machine tools.has units in Bangalore, Pinjore (Haryana), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Srinagar etc.
  • Instrumentation ltd @Kota,
  • magnetic, electromagnetic equipment’s
  • @Palkkad, hydraulic and pneumatic instruments

Observe that none of above places are famous for iron-steel production.

Light engineering industry

  • These articles are fairly light and require small amount of raw materials. (e.g. various household and office equipment)
  • Such industries rely on electricity rather than coal or oil for power.
  • For them skilled labour, transport, market, favorable government policies (SEZ/Taxation) are more important factors than proximity to raw material.
  • They can be found near major cities rather than in traditional industrial areas near coalmines.
  • We’ll see about them in detail later in the articles for market/labour factors in industrial location.

In the next article, we’ll see geographical factors affecting the location of automobile industry and shipbuilding industry.
visit Mrunal.org/geography for the Archive of all geography articles published so far.