Steel is ubiquitous in the modern world; it’s in things we see and touch everyday, though often we don’t know it. But just how and why is it so widespread today? Let’s take a look at a brief history of steel, what it is and its place in Australia today.

history of steel in australia

The history of steel is long and triumphant, weathering millennia to become one of the most versatile and widely-used metals in the modern world. Let’s have a look at the history of steel and its place in Australia today.


The history of steel production and implementation can be traced back almost 4,000 years – the earliest archeological excavation of it being dated around 1800 BC. Since then it has weathered the ages, with its application weaving its way through the antiquity of the Roman Empire, the Spartans, Chinese dynasties, all the way to countless modern applications. Favoured for its high tensile strength and relatively low cost, steel has been the backbone of civilisations for millennia, moulded and applied across numerous industries and trades, from warfare to medicine, making it one of the most crucial and versatile elements to be harnessed by the human race.

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Image source Nicole Janelle


Steel is an alloy, basically meaning it is mixture of different metals, usually made up of iron and other elements like carbon. Its high tensile strength (or ‘ultimate strength’) and malleable nature make it prime for use in construction. Before modern production techniques greatly lowered the cost of steel, it was largely manufactured in small quantities, reserved for use in fashioning blade edges for swords and razors, or springs for clocks and watches. Modern steel, however, if found primary in infrastructure – in bridges, railroads, stadiums and skyscrapers – but also for more delicate items like stainless steel cutlery, weapons and surgical instruments.

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Steel in Australia

Iron ore, a crucial element of in steel production, is one of Australia’s biggest exports. WA is Australia’s most iron ore-rich state with the commodity accounting for nearly half of the state’s valuable resources. Between 1960, when the Australian government lifted restrictions on the mining of iron ore, and the mid-1970s, production of iron ore rose from somewhere around 10 million tonnes to 100 million per year – the majority coming from WA. By 2003 this number had skyrocketed to 200 million tonnes.

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Steel is one of the world’s most recycled materials with a global recycling rate of over 60%. In Australia, we do so at a world-class level with environmentally sustainable steel infrastructure being of primary importance to industry and Government sectors alike. It is also an increasingly sought-after material, crucial for the continued development of technology, building and infrastructure in Australia – Despite it’s long history, in so many ways it is also the building material of the future.

If you have a project that needs steel, whether it’s supply, fabrication, drafting, or installation, talk to the experts at Steel Fabrication Services. Our dedicated team of metal fabrication experts professionals will ensure that your project goes according to plan right down to the smallest detail.

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