The industrial strength of a nation is usually measured in terms of its capacity to produce steel.
The industrial strength of a nation is usually measured in terms of its capacity to produce steel. While the basic steel industry in Canada dates back more than a century, even ten years ago its steel industry was not large enough or diversified enough to produce all the major types of steel needed in our expanding economy. There are a number of steel companies in Canada, all of which have been expanding rapidly.
One of these, the Steel Company of Canada (known as STELCO) has its basic manufacturing steel plant, the Hilton Works, in Hamilton, with finishing plants and subsidiary companies located in a number of cities across Canada. It has been carrying out a series of programs of modernization and expansion since the end of the war in 1945 representing the expenditure of nearly $700,000,000. A milestone was reached last fall when the nation's first 148" plate mill (a $50 million unit) covering over 9 1/2 acres was opened at their Hilton Works, to meet the ever-increasing demand of Canadian steel users for wider material by producing plate up to 140" in width and of an infinity of thickness or gauges and skelp for the fabrication of pipe up to 42" in diameter. Availability of this wide plate, which previously had to be imported into Canada, will prove a boon to Canadian steel fabricators since it will permit extensive design flexibility, a reduction in the number of joins in a wide range of finished products, and economies in building, forming and storage procedures.
Among the many features of the new mill, which ultimately will have an annual rolling capacity of one million tons, are two reversing mills - a two-hi roughing stand and four-hi finishing stand, shown in our footage. The two-hi breaks the slab down and also acts as a scalebreaker. This permits the four-hi reversing mill to be used primarily for finishing operations, thereby improving plate quality.
Steel is first produced as ingots, and is then rolled into slabs and fed into the plate mill. The function of the plate mill is to produce steel plate in various widths and thicknesses. Operational procedures on the 148" plate mill begin in the unit's two continuous furnaces (shown in our footage), where slabs are heated to temperatures in excess of 2300 degrees fahrenheit to facilitate subsequent rolling operations. From these furnaces, the slabs travel through a series of high-pressure sprays which blast-off primary scale and then into the two-hi roughing mill where they are rolled into the required width. In the four-hi mill, the slabs are rolled down to gauge and the plate is subsequently flattened in a leveller and side-trimmed in a rotary shear. After this, the plate travels onto an inspection bed and is then end-sheared and sent on to the shipping department.
This width of plate has a wide variety of uses such as in the manufacture of pipe for oil and gas transmission lines (one of these pipes is shown in our footage in the mill); steel tank type hopper cars; bridge construction and structural steel fabrication; shipbuilding; tank and pressure vessel manufacturing and in the production of heavy machinery and cranes.
The basic materials for the production of steel are iron ore, coal and limestone. Canada is rich in iron ore - many new deposits are being brought into production, with the steel companies owning an interest in many of the mines.