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Continental Europe: There has been remarkable development of steel manufacturing in the countries of West Europe. In this crowded continent, national frontiers and political relationships affect the life of every industry.
The growth and development of west European steel centres depend on the one hand, upon supplies of iron-ore from Spain, Sweden, Alsace Lorraine and Luxembourg, and on the other hand, upon the supplies of coal from the Ruhr basin (Germany) and Great Britain. After World War II, the western leaders, attempted to rebuild a stronger West Europe (including West Germany). This brought into being the European Coal and Steel Community or the Schuman's Plan Organization in 1952. The E.C.S.C. provided for the establishment of a common market the abolition of import and export duties. A further extension of the same principle to cover all items of trade has brought in The European Common Market (since 1957).
As a result, the production of steel in almost every country of Europe has substantially increased. Yet the most remarkable expansion can be noticed in Germany and Italy, and also in Poland, the Czech Republic.
West Germany: After the Second World War, West Germany had been the third largest producer of iron and steel for many years and but since 1967 she has become the fourth producer being surpassed by Japan. In 1985 West Germany produced 44 million tons and it was nearly double the production of united Germany in pre-war days. The most significant fact of German steel industry is its heaviest concentration in a single area of the Rube basin near the western border of the country. The Ruhr basin with the lower Rhine district has become the greatest manufacturing area of continental Europe.
The Ruhr Basin Steel Centres: Within 80 km's from east to west, on either side the river Ruhr, there has developed more than a dozen of steel towns. Nowhere else on the earth's surface can one find such heavy concentration of iron and steel plants. The steel industry has become established here for the unique combination of a number of favorable factors.
(a) The Ruhr basin contains the largest and the best coking coal deposit of West Europe. To these coal-fields, iron-ores come form different parts of the continent.
(b) Lorraine (now in France) which contains the largest ore deposit of Europe is situated only 241 kms to the south-west of the Rube valley. For higher quality steel, West Germany always imports large quantity of iron-ore from Sweden and Spain.
(c) The excellent transportation system in these area provided by a net-work of railways, roads, canals and rivers, specially the Rhine and her tributaries, namely, the Ruhr and the Lippe, presents unique opportunities for the easy movement of coal, iron and other materials. Ores from Sweden and Spain are brought here cheaply over the river Rhine. The construction of Ems-Dortmund canal further facilitated imports of ore from Sweden. Coal is exported to these countries as return cargoes. Continuance of operation of the Ruhr steel works is, therefore, essential for the very existence of many other steel industries of West Europe.
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