Economies of Scale in the Global Iron-Making Industry
AbstractIn this paper, we investigate the presence of economies of scale in the global iron-making industry for integrated steel plants, iron-making being the first stage in the steel-making process. Iron-making depends on basic commodities, such as iron ore, coke and various forms of energy, required in the operation of the blast furnaces, which can be classified as essential inputs and used in fixed proportions to produce iron. A generalized Leontief cost function is estimated using panel data for sixty nine integrated plants, such a specification being appropriate for technologies with essential inputs that are used in fixed proportions in production. A significant scale effect is observed due to the existence of fixed costs and a linear dependence of the cost function on production. Under a simple linear cost function, a rough estimate of the breakeven scale of plant, where costs equal revenue, is 4.5 million tonnes per year. Competitiveness, as measured by the ratio of plant average cost per tonne to best practice cost per tonne, can be shown to be positively related to the scale of production as well as the cost of essential inputs (in particular, ore and other basic commodities). Thus, low-cost producers are also often producers with low raw material costs, with production levels below the estimated breakeven scale of operation. Labour costs, although significant, are comparatively less important as a driver towards low costs.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion / Working Papers with number 04-23.
Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
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Metals and metal products; primary products; scale economies; Leontief cost function.;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
- F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies
- L61 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Metals and Metal Products; Cement; Glass; Ceramics
- L72 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Other Nonrenewable Resources
- Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply
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