What Is the Raw Materials Industry?

Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The raw materials industry is a broad term, used to describe the combination of the various companies that extract, process and distribute basic substances, such as iron, wood, rock, and oil. Each raw material builds the foundation for a necessary product, from steel ships to highway pavement. This industry ensures that world manufacturing is not interrupted, allowing economies to grow and prosper.

One section of the raw materials industry harvests iron ore from the ground. Iron deposits are found through extensive research by the raw materials industry. As a result, the ore is cleaned, stored, and allocated to various manufacturers for creating sheet metal and other iron ore derived items. Ships and airplanes are just a few items constructed from the raw materials industry.

Wood is one of the original raw materials used for building shelters and other human structures. The raw materials industry uses wood extensively for generating paper products, from copy paper to toilet paper. Wood is also cut to specific shapes to create construction grade lumber for erecting new homes and businesses.

Rocks and minerals must be collected in huge amounts from worldwide quarries to serve as a main ingredient for asphalt and concrete. Many of the world's roads and highways are constructed with a rocky mixture of cement, rock aggregate, and water. Without these key ingredients supplied by the raw materials industry, roads would still be dirt pathways that are prone to flooding and erosion.

Oil is one of the most coveted of the raw materials. It is harvested for creating energy, such as gasoline in vehicles. This specific industry is essential to almost every person in the world since most products reach communities by means of airplanes, vehicles, and trains that require oil and gasoline to run the engine.

The various portions of the raw materials industry are critical to the production of many goods people use every day. If the supply of even one of the types of raw materials stopped, even temporarily, there would be obvious consequences. Retail customers could see empty shelves in their favorite stores. For example, restricted wood supplies would cause lumber inventory in home improvement stores to dwindle. Resource scarcity means that sales for both the raw materials industry and the retail stores would suffer, damaging the overall economy.

The Earth cannot perpetually supply the world economy's needs for raw materials. Many industry executives are looking to recycling as an alternative source of materials. Scrap steel and other types of metal can be melted down and formed into new items, limiting the need for new mining of ore. Rock can be broken and separated from its original shape to generate a newly paved road. In addition, paper can be reduced to pulp, creating new paper items after extensive processing.

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Discussion Comments


Yes, under the definition of raw materials, all fuels are raw materials.


Can non-coking coal used as fuel be classified as 'Raw Material' for the ceramics industry? Unlike coking coal, which provides carbon for steel, the non-coking coal, which is a known raw material in the steel industry because it enters into the finished goods to provide carbon, whereas non-coking coal is just a fuel. So can it be included in the list of raw materials?

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