The 16 largest pig iron producing countries

According to Yahoo Finance South Africa sits at number 16 in the ranking. Production of pig iron in 2022 was 2.4 million metric tons. South Africa produced 17.5% less pig iron in 2022 as compared to 2021. This is mainly due to the inefficiency of the state-owned railway operator. Most of the iron ore and coal in the country is transported by rail and so producers had to hire trucks to transport raw material, leading to an increase in the cost of logistics.

Above South Africa were countries such as 15: Mexico (Production of Pig Iron in 2022: 3 million metric tons), Iran, Italy, Turkey, Taiwan, Vietnam, Ukraine (position 9 and 19 million metric tons), USA, Germany, Brazil, Korea, Russia, Japan (71 million tons) and India.

In position one is China (Production of Pig Iron in 2022: 830 million tons). The country alone accounts for around 63.8% of the total pig iron produced in the world. However, the country is also the largest steel manufacturer in the world and so to satisfy the immense local demand, the country still remains a net importer of pig iron, with a negative trade balance of $766 million in 2021.

China is the second-largest importer of pig iron in the world, after the US, with most of its imports coming from Brazil. China witnessed a decrease of 2.1% in the production of pig iron in 2022 as compared to 2021, when it stood at 869 million tons. This is mainly due to the 4% decrease in the demand of steel in the country in 2022, due to its economic conditions and extended Covid 19 mitigation strategies.

Iron is the least expensive and most widely used metal in the world. Pig iron, or crude iron, is an intermediary good that is produced by smelting iron ore or scrap iron, with coke in a blast furnace or an electric arc furnace. On the other hand, cast iron is the purest form of iron. Cast iron contains only 3% carbon while the carbon content of pig iron is around 4%. Pig iron is hard and brittle and also has other impurities, such as sulphur, manganese, silicon and phosphorus mixed into it, while cast iron contains no impurities and can be cast into any shape.

Pig iron, while not very useful on its own, is used as a raw material for manufacturing steel. The difference lies in the percentage of carbon present. Those irons that have a carbon content of less than 2% are called steels. Pig iron was not produced in Europe until the Middle Ages, but China was producing it as early as 256 B.C.