Metallurgy

Metallurgy

Attaining self-sufficiency in steel to supply the vital machine-building industry was a primary economic goal after World War II. It was Romania's determination to pursue that goal and to build the Galati steelworks that precipitated the clash with Khrushchev and Comecon in 1964. Steel output rose from 550,000 tons in 1950 to 1.8 million tons in 1960 to 6.5 million tons in 1970. Despite this impressive growth, production fell short of demand, and the steel was of insufficient quality for many machine-building applications. Therefore the government decided in the early 1970s to build a state-of-the-art steelworks at TÓrgoviste using West German technology. In the second half of the decade, another large complex was built at Calarasi--again with Western technology. But the industry failed to reach its 1980 production target of 18 million tons, as the country headed into a general economic decline. Production in 1985 was 13.8 million tons, and in 1988 it was 14.3 million tons--still below target but sufficient to place Romania among the world's top ten producers on a per capita basis.

Romania also imported Soviet technology. Using Soviet rolling mills delivered in 1985, the Galati steelworks and the Republica works in Bucharest began manufacturing 1,420-millimeter seamless steel pipe for Soviet gas pipelines; Romania was the only nonSoviet Comecon member to obtain this technology. In the late 1980s, the Soviets also agreed to equip a new steel plant at Slatina.

The Soviet Union also became the chief foreign supplier of raw materials for the steel industry, including iron ore and coking coal. Because of its participation in the Krivoy Rog iron-ore development project, Romania was assured of receiving 27 to 30 percent of output from that complex up to the year 2000. Australia was another promising supplier; the Hancock Mining Company signed a contract to improve the ore-transloading facility at Constanta and to deliver 53 million tons of iron ore between 1988 and 2000.

Nonferrous metallurgy, which dates to pre-Roman times, became increasingly important after World War II. Output during the period of 1966-82 increased an average 8.1 percent annually. Nonferrous metals increased their share of total industrial output from 3.2 percent in 1966 to 4.0 percent in 1982. Following World War II, Romania built flotation plants at six new sites and modernized existing facilities. Major centers of the industry included Branesti in Galati judet, Baia Mare, Copsa Mica in Sibiu judet, Zlatna in Alba judet, Tulcea, Oradea, Slatina, and Moldova Noua in Caras-Severin judet. The copper and aluminum industries received special attention. Aluminum output increased by a factor of twenty-seven between 1965 and 1987. Construction of a major new aluminum combine, using Soviet technology, was under consideration in the late 1980s. New copper, titanium, and vanadium mines were also being developed to reduce dependence on imports. Through participation in projects to develop nonferrous metal resources in the Soviet Union and in a number of Third-World nations, Romania secured foreign supplies of critical ores.

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