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Industries in Europe

Competition, Trends and Policy Issues

Edited by Peter Johnson

This important book, a successor volume to European Industries, brings together a number of in-depth and authoritative studies of key European industries, providing fascinating insights into their nature and characteristics.
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Chapter 8: Metals

Tony Cockerill


1 Tony Cockerill Winning metals from mineral ore has supported the development of human economy and society since the Stone Age. Today, metals play a vital part in the leading-edge technologies of information and communication. They are crucial in most sectors of the economy, in particular construction, engineering, household goods and appliances, transport and communication systems, and equipment and packaging. Possession of, and access to, minerals and metals gain strategic importance for countries and regions in times of trade disputes and of political uncertainty. The focus of this chapter is basic metal processing (sector 27 of Eurostat’s revised standard industrial classification). It covers the manufacture and processing of both ferrous and non-ferrous base metals.2 Steel is the principal ferrous metal. Among the non-ferrous metals, copper, aluminium, zinc, nickel and lead are the most important. The significance of tin has diminished over the past quarter-century. Statistical analysis at both EU and national levels now treats the production of the two types of metal as a single sector. The reasons for this include: the decline in metals’ share of industrial output and of total economic output (gross domestic product) as electrical and electronic products have grown in importance and as the services sector has increased; increased end-use substitutability among the various types of metal, and between them and other materials, plastic and glass in particular; some common processes; and a recent trend among the major metal producing companies towards the integration of the manufacture and supply of both ferrous and...

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