Global Energy Monitor

Architecture

Global Energy Monitor’s Global Steel Plant Tracker uses a two-level system for organizing information, consisting of both a database and wiki pages with further information. The database tracks individual iron and steel plants and includes information such as plant owner and parent company, plant status, iron and steel production method, plant capacity, annual production, location, and furnace details (capacity, age, model, etc.). A wiki page for each plant is created within GEM.wiki, and contains more detailed, footnoted information such as plant history, labor/social issues, and environmental records. The database and wiki pages are updated annually.

Research Process

A preliminary list of steel plants in each country/area was gathered from public and private data sources including Steel On The Net, OECD Steel Committee, SteelOrbis, SteelGuru, South East Asian Iron and Steel Institute (SEAISI), Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST), Fastmarkets News, and USGS Mineral Yearbooks, as well as various company and government sources. Data for proposed iron and steel plants was gathered from company announcements, press releases, government permits, and the OECD papers on steelmaking capacity developments, and includes global coverage of iron and steel plants proposed as of March 1, 2024. The data was then vetted against additional sources of information, listed below.

Iron and steel plant data is updated and maintained through six main sources:

  • Corporate reports and data sources from iron and steel plant owner and parent companies
  • Government data on individual iron and steel plants
  • Reports by national and regional iron and steel industry groups
  • News and media reports
  • Reports from iron and steel technology manufacturers
  • On the ground contacts who can provide first-hand information about a project or plant

As of the April 2024 update, the Global Steel Plant Tracker and Global Blast Furnace Tracker have been reviewed thoroughly against the OECD’s “Latest Developments in Steelmaking Capacity 2024” and the World Steel Association’s “World Steel in Figures 2023”.

Where possible, iron and steel plant data is circulated for review to researchers familiar with local conditions and languages. Reviewers and collaborators include Global Efficiency Intelligence, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Spatial Finance Initiative, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Ember Climate, Raven Ridge Resources, and many other individual contributors.

Wiki Pages

For each iron and steel plant, a wiki page is created on Global Energy Monitor’s GEM.wiki. Wiki pages provide a repository for plant details including plant owner, parent company, plant status, iron and steel production method, plant capacity and actual production, location (coordinates and map), and furnace details, as well as additional in-depth information that may include plant background, financing, environmental impacts, raw material sourcing, finished product uses, public opposition, aerial photographs, videos, and links to plant environmental permits. Under standard wiki convention, all information is linked to a published reference, such as a news article, company or government report, or a regulatory permit. In order to ensure data integrity in the open-access wiki environment, Global Energy Monitor researchers review all edits of project wiki pages.

Plant Capacity and Actual Production

Capacity is defined as the tonnes of crude iron or steel per annum that a plant is capable of producing with units currently onsite. Production is actual tonnes of crude iron or steel per annum produced at a plant in a given year.

The Global Steel Plant Tracker provides a sum total crude steelmaking capacity and ironmaking capacity (across all production methods) for each plant, organized by operating status (see “Frequently Asked Questions” for more details). Steelmaking is a process that uses a furnace to produce crude steel from pig iron/hot metal, direct reduced iron/sponge iron, and/or scrap steel. Thus, steelmaking capacity and actual production refers to the output of steelmaking furnaces. Ironmaking is the process of producing liquid iron by reducing iron ore with either metallurgical coal (to produce pig iron/hot metal) or a reducing gas or elemental carbon produced from natural gas or coal (to produce direct reduced iron/sponge iron). Thus, ironmaking capacity refers to the output of ironmaking furnaces/units. 

Raw material preparation for iron and steelmaking requires other units that also have individual capacity and production levels. Preparation of iron ore for the iron and steelmaking process often involves pelletization or sintering to create uniform-sized iron ore pieces. In coal-based iron and steelmaking, metallurgical coal is transformed to “coke” through a baking process in coke ovens. 

Plant capacities for crude steel, iron, ferronickel, coke, iron pellets, and sinter were researched and recorded. When available, actual production of crude iron and steel is provided, beginning with the year 2019. When possible, plant steelmaking capacity and production was distinguished by the production process used (i.e. electric arc furnace, basic oxygen furnace, or open hearth furnace). Ironmaking capacity and production was also distinguished by production process and product (i.e. blast furnace (hot metal/pig iron), direct reduced iron plant (DRI/sponge iron)). In some cases where plant capacity could not be found, plant capacities were estimated based on historic production values, furnace capacities, or by pro-rating company capacities between the corresponding plants.

If plant capacity for a given product was known to be greater than zero, but the exact value could not be found or estimated with confidence, capacity was listed as “>0” and production was listed as “unknown”. If plant capacity or production for a given product was known to be zero, capacity and production were each listed as “N/A” (not applicable). If it could not be determined whether a plant produced a given product or not, capacity and production were each listed as “unknown”. 

Global Energy Monitor’s wiki pages provide detailed capacity and production information by steel and ironmaking process, as well as capacities for ferronickel, coke, iron pellets, and sinter when available.

Plant Status Categories

Announced: Projects that have been announced in corporate or governmental planning documents, but have not begun operation.

Construction: Physical plant structure building has begun.

Operating: Plant is operating one or more iron or steelmaking furnace(s).

Operating pre-retirement: Plant is operating one or more iron or steelmaking furnace(s).

Mothballed: Plant iron and steelmaking has been idled such that it cannot be brought into operation immediately, but is not closed.

Retired: Plant has ceased operations and no longer has ability to produce iron and/or steel.

Cancelled: Plant previously planned or under development that has been cancelled. If no progress or announcements for a proposed plant are made after 5 years, the plant is considered to be cancelled.

Workforce Size

Workforce size for each individual iron and steel plant was researched and recorded if available. Workforce size aims to capture the number of full-time employees working at a given iron and steel plant. In some cases when workforce size could not be found for a specific plant, it was estimated from company-wide workforce data. As the first known attempt to capture the iron and steel industry’s workforce size at the plant-level, GEM presents this data with the caveat that for many plants workforce size remains unknown and/or reported with a lack of transparency for exactly who is included in that workforce size (i.e. full-time vs part-time workers, temporary/contract workers, administrative personnel, etc.). Our aim in providing this data is to create a starting point from which workforce size data can be improved.

Mapping

To allow easy public access to the results, Global Energy Monitor worked with GreenInfo Network to develop a map-based and table-based interface using the Leaflet Open-Source JavaScript library. In the case of exact coordinates, locations have been visually determined using Google Maps, Google Earth, Planet Labs, or Wikimapia. For proposed projects, exact locations, if available, are from permit applications or other company documentation. If the location of a plant or proposal is not known, GEM identifies the most approximate location.