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Steel Industry Workers


Civilization changed forever when people first learned to heat and hammer iron ore into iron objects about 3,000 years ago. The first raw iron used was probably that found in meteorites on the surface of the earth. Smelting of iron ore from under the earth's surface came later. People already knew how to make metal alloys (bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, had been in use since 3800 B.C.), and about 500 years after iron became widely used, steel was being made in India. Until modern times, however, steel was fairly rare. Now steel is one of the most ubiquitous substances in our civilization. Modern blast furnaces duplicate many of the processes used by the ancients, but in quantities of which they never could have dreamed.

Since the 1970s, public policy issues regarding the environment and energy have affected the steel industry. More research and attention has been paid in the decades since to the way steel is manufactured and to recycling and sustainability. The American Iron and Steel Institute reports that steel is the most recycled material in the world: Each year more than 60 million tons of steel are recycled or exported for recycling, and 97 percent of steel by-products can also be re-used or recycled. 

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