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The Iron Rolling Mill (Eisenwalzwerk), 1870s, by Adolph Menzel.
Casting at an iron foundry: From Fra Burmeister og Wain's Iron Foundry, 1885 by Peder Severin Krøyer

An ironworks or iron works is an industrial plant where iron is smelted and where heavy iron and steel products are made. The term is both singular and plural, i.e. the singular of ironworks is ironworks.

Ironworks succeeded bloomeries when blast furnaces replaced former methods. An integrated ironworks in the 19th century usually included one or more blast furnaces and a number of puddling furnaces or a foundry with or without other kinds of ironworks. After the invention of the Bessemer process, converters became widespread, and the appellation steelworks replaced ironworks.

The processes carried at ironworks are usually described as ferrous metallurgy, but the term siderurgy is also occasionally used. This is derived from the Greek words sideros - iron and ergon or ergos - work. This is an unusual term in English, and it is best regarded as an anglicisation of a term used in French, Spanish, and other Romance languages.

Historically, it is common that a community was built around the ironworks where the people living there were dependent on the ironworks to provide jobs and housing. [1] As the ironworks closed down (or was industrialised) these villages quite often went into decline and experienced negative economic growth. [2]

Varieties of ironworks

Primary ironmaking

Main article: Ferrous metallurgy

A South Wales iron mill in 1798
Blast furnaces of Třinec Iron and Steel Works.
Toronto rolling mills

Ironworks is used as an omnibus term covering works undertaking one or more iron-producing processes.[3] Such processes or species of ironworks where they were undertaken include the following:

Modern steelmaking

Main articles: Steel mill and Steelmaking

The ironworks of Dalsbruk in Kimitoön, Finland

From the 1850s, pig iron might be partly decarburised to produce mild steel using one of the following:[5]

The mills operating converters of any type are better called steelworks, ironworks referring to former processes, like puddling.

Further processing

After bar iron had been produced in a finery forge or in the forge train of a rolling mill, it might undergo further processes in one of the following:


Most of these processes did not produce finished goods. Further processes were often manual, including

In the context of the iron industry, the term manufacture is best reserved for this final stage.

Notable ironworks

Coat of arms of Eisenhüttenstadt ("city of ironworks"), Germany

Main article: List of steel producers

The notable ironworks of the world are described here by country. See above for the largest producers and the notable ironworks in the alphabetical order.


South Africa


United States





The largest Japanese steel companies' main works are as follows:




Czech Republic


Great Britain

See also: List of ironworks in Wales







  1. ^ Roos, Annie (2021). "Reproducing gender - The spatial context of gender in entrepreneurship". Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  2. ^ Roos, Annie; Gaddefors, Johan (2022-04-07). "In the wake of the ironworks - entrepreneurship and the spatial connections to empowerment and emancipation". The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: 146575032210898. doi:10.1177/14657503221089802. ISSN 1465-7503. S2CID 248043339.
  3. ^ Hayman, Richard (2005). Ironmaking: History and Archaeology of the British Iron Industry. History Press.
  4. ^ "A new iron age?". The Why Files. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  5. ^ Ghosh, Ahindra; Chatterjee, Amit (2008). Ironmaking and Steelmaking: Theory and Practice. Prentice-Hall of India.
  6. ^ Deaux, Joe (2019-12-20). "U.S. Steel to cut 1,545 Michigan jobs as weakness overwhelms Trump's protection". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-12-21.