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Tata Steel Centenary Celebrations

Steel Evolution Story

Duplex Plant in India Teeming a Heat at Duplex Plant


» The Beginning
» The War Years
» Expansion to Two Million Tonnes
» Period between 1960-80
» Steelmaking and casting
» Tata Steel Today

The War Years

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the plant was geared to meet the priority needs of the government. It worked on a 24 hour schedule, and sold its product to the government at a fraction of the price prevailing in the open market. Two more open hearth furnaces of 60 tonnes capacity each were added to make more steel. Tatas supplied 1500 miles of rails and 300,000 tonnes of steel to the allies’ war effort. During this period, Tata steel embarked on an expansion of the works. The greater extension programme was taken up in 1917 to raise the steel production to 500,000 tonnes. This phase saw the then latest Duplex process of steelmaking being introduced along with an electric driven blooming mill.

The programme was delayed due to the war and could be completed only in 1924. As against the original estimate of Rs.67.6 million, the final cost came to Rs. 196 million.

The company progressively added new units such as the third Duplex furnace in 1929, two new roughing and finishing mills in 1933, and a new blast furnace along with coke ovens in 1935. Simultaneously, mining leases were renewed or obtained afresh and attention was given to ancillaries and, a capacity of 800,000 tonnes of saleable Steel was attained by 1939. At that time, Tata Steel came to be regarded as the largest Steel plant in the British Empire and also the cheapest exporter of pig iron in the world (the latter reminiscent of the state in 1999).

During the years of the Second World War between 1939 and 1945, Tata Steel contributed in a big way towards supplying war materials. This was a result of successful experimentation and innovation with existing resources. At the instance of the Government, in 1941, Tata Steel put up a wheel, tyre and axle plant to meet the requirements of the railways; in 1942 a mill to manufacture 1,000 tonnes per month of armour plates for defence carriers was added; a benzol recovery plant for producing toluene needed for the manufacture of explosives was put up in 1943; special quality sheets of alloy Steel and of high silicon were made in 1944-45 along with Steel for the famous “Tatanagar” tanks.

Subsequently, Tata Steel was looking for new areas of diversification and for modernizing the works.
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