Business and industry in Norway - The metals industry

Number of companies121
Number of employees14658
This sector’s export share82
Gross product in percentage1,5

The metals industry is one of Norway’s largest export industries. Norwegian companies are also major producers of aluminium and ferro-alloys on a global basis. Norway also produces iron and steel, magnesium, nickel and zinc. The foundries are a part of the metals industry. Many of the companies, such as the aluminium plants at Årdal and Sunndal, were established along with the hydroelectric-power stations.

The metals industry mainly consists of a few large companies, most of which are located in regional Norway. Most of the metals companies are a part of large groups, such as Norsk Hydro, Elkem and Fesil. Foreign owners have gradually become more important to the Norwegian metals industry. The metals markets are sensitive to business cycles, and these companies’ profitability depends on international prices, which fluctuate considerably from year to year, cf the figure on the next page.

Aluminium production makes up the largest part of the Norwegian metals industry. Primary aluminium is produced at seven works around the country, with Norsk Hydro as the largest company in this sector. Norway produces the largest amount of primary aluminium in western Europe, and 80-90 per cent of its output is exported. Aluminium is a light metal that is used as an intermediate product in the manufacture of cars and other means of transport, the construction and packaging industries and for manufacturing electricity-supply cables.

Norway is one of the world’s largest producers of ferrosilicon and silicon-metal. Ferrosilicon is used as an intermediate product in the manufacture of steel. Around 60 per cent of the silicon-metal is used to make aluminium, while the rest is used in the chemicals and electronics markets. Many of the world’s PCs, for example, use semi-conductors made of silicon-metal produced by Elkem.

Norway’s foundries produce end-products and components for other mechanical-engineering industries. Important products include automotive parts, parts for the electronics industry, components for ship equipment and offshore installations, cast-iron furnaces and manhole covers.

Norsk HydroAluminium: primary aluminium and semi-manufactured products; magnesium
Elkem, Fesil, Globe and ErametFerroalloys; intermediate products for use in manufacturing other metals
Fundia, Rautaruukki and CorusSteel; iron reinforcements, ship sections and sheet metal
Falconbridge NikkelverkNickel

LME primary aluminium price (USD/mt)

Metals prices fluctuate considerably. The figure shows the extreme fluctuation in the price of primary aluminium during the 1990s. Source: Norsk Hydro

World's largest producers of primary aluminium, 1999 (1000 metric tons)

Norway produces the largest amount of primary aluminium in western Europe and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of this metal. Source: US Geological Survey

The metals industry

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