Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduate Student Visit to the Shougang Group

On, May 18th we visited the Shougang group which is the fourth largest steelmaker in China and got to see red hot steel plates being pressed into thinner plates, we also saw the blast furnace in operation – iron ore converted to molten metal...amazing – its facility west of Beijing is in the process of being shut down and replaced with one on a manmade island near Tianjin about 220 Km to the East……imagine this in the US – building an island off the coast of New York and putting a steel mill on it – from a supply chain perspective it makes a lot of sense – most of the ore is imported and much of the output is exported – this takes a lot of transportation costs out of the equation which when you are dealing with something like iron ore and steel (low value – high weight) can be significant.

On the other hand...I wonder about the environmental impacts...I could never imagine something like this in the USA – although in Houston? Who knows…. Following this visit we lunched at a place run by a minority group from the South of China (Dai?) and then visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Our guide Tom was at the Square just before the crackdown (or incident as they prefer to call it) occurred. A few days before the “incident” his father, who was a soldier and an ardent communist, had a friend talk him into coming home where he was promptly placed under “house arrest” and locked in his room for three days to keep him out of the way of the events of June 4th...what a story!

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