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Metals

We bring a unique blend of industry, functional, and regional expertise to help metals companies solve their most important and complex problems—and deliver fundamental, measurable, and lasting performance improvement.

Metals players, whether in steel, aluminum, copper, or other base metals, must shape strategy and drive performance in an environment of unprecedented volatility and flux. Metals value chains are “slivering” into distinct slices, each with its own economics, while radical shifts in global supply-and-demand patterns mean producers must adapt to a multi-speed world. There is no one path to sustainable value creation; each player must tailor its agenda for moving ahead—including growth across new markets and products—and focus on operational excellence and agility in the face of uncertainty.

What we do

McKinsey serves the majority of the world’s largest metals companies, along a broad spectrum of functional topics. We help them solve their most important and complex problems—and deliver fundamental, measurable, and lasting performance improvement. Four things distinguish our work:

State-of-the-art knowledge

We make major investments in knowledge. Our global Basic Materials Institute (BMI) houses 50 leading professionals with deep expertise in all major metals. We offer our clients unique insights on supply, demand, trade flows, and future prospects for steel, aluminum, copper, and other base metals. We publish extensively on these topics, and we are core participants in the world’s major metals conferences. We also collaborate with global institutions, metals associations, and policymakers to help shape the industry’s future.

Global industry expertise

We have gained deep insights from serving a wide range of metals companies—many being long-term clients—that include global firms, regionally focused firms, integrated players, and specialist players. Our expertise spans all major commodities, and our broad experience encompasses Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Deep functional expertise

We bring expertise in all key functions—from operations, to capital productivity, to marketing and sales. Our strategy work spans growth, corporate and business unit strategy, and market entry. In performance transformation, we help drive large-scale culture change alongside far-reaching operational improvement. And in organization, we make mergers work and structure complex metals companies for high performance. We offer a suite of proprietary tools, covering everything from operational benchmarking to plant simulations.

Impact-driven approach

We are trusted counselors to CEOs and other senior executives, bringing a top-management perspective to metals companies’ most important opportunities and challenges. We offer objective perspectives rooted in knowledge and analysis, and we work collaboratively with our clients shape high-impact, creative, workable solutions. We also invest heavily in building client capabilities. Our McKinsey Implementation Service Line works intensively with our clients to translate recommendations into lasting and substantial performance improvement. Our Recovery and Transformation Services Delivery Model helps companies rapidly plan, execute, and sustain turnarounds.

Examples of our work

  • We implement large-scale, multi-year performance transformations for leading metals players. For example, we designed and helped deliver a 2-year operational-transformation program for a European-based metals producer—delivering cost savings of €500 million. Similar programs helped metals manufacturers based in China and the Middle East achieve global cost leadership.
  • We evaluate and assist to capture synergies. For example, we evaluated first-phase potential synergies for a merger between two global metals producers. After the merger, several teams assisted with implementation to help realize the synergies in the new corporation.
  • We define strategic growth plans. For instance, we helped a metals player in South America with its ambition to double its size, EBITDA, and market capitalization by a combination of organic growth and counter-cyclical acquisitions.
  • We provide assistance with operational improvement and lean operations. For a European aluminum manufacturer, we helped improve the performance of a furnace and hot rolling mill while reducing cost—smelting efficiency increased by 35 percent, and cost was reduced by 20 percent.

FEATURED EXPERTS

Avetik Chalabyan

Senior Partner, Moscow

Benedikt Zeumer

Partner, Düsseldorf

Karel Eloot

Senior Partner, Shanghai

FEATURED CAPABILITIES

SteelLens

SteelLens is a proprietary McKinsey toolkit supporting steel operations diagnostics and holistic performance transformations. SteelLens links operational metrics to CEO insights building on global technical industry benchmarks and deep steel industry expertise.

Key element of SteelLens is a technical benchmarking database covering the processes of integrated steel production up to continuous casting as well as the EAF-route of steel production. Our client-tailored technical benchmarking approaches range from a short, standardized desktop benchmarking to a detailed on-site diagnostic. The benchmarking results enable steel companies to compare specific aspects of their operational performance against their peers, highlighting gaps and improvement opportunities. Another element is an extensive library of operational and technical impact cases, which is particularly valuable and helpful in improvement idea generation workshops to address the gaps identified.

Beyond proprietary McKinsey tools, SteelLens brings distinctive steel industry expertise building on a group of highly skilled practitioners with in-depth steel knowledge.

Rapid Yield Boost

The tool combines McKinsey’s mining expertise with big data and advanced analytics. It harnesses all available historical plant data to challenge the existing “truth” on performance drivers with credible analyses—and translates them into actionable recommendations to boost the bottom line without additional capex. For example, we used the tool to help an African gold mine boost yield by 8 percent despite a drop in grade—and thus create options to extend the life of the mine.

Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) Tools

This powerful suite of tools helps our clients optimize procurement. The McKinsey Spend Analysis Tool allows Web-based aggregation, cleansing, and classification of complex spend data across multiple systems and currencies. Our Category Savings database provides industry- and category-specific savings benchmarks based on our global procurement experience, while our Procurement Excellence database distills best practices from over 1,000 procurement organizations.

Value-in-use

McKinsey’s value-in-use tools harness advanced analytics and our global industry expertise. For steel plants, we optimize raw materials mix through proprietary models for blast furnaces and converters—helping clients achieve EBIDTA increases of up to 2 percentage points in just 2-3 months. For non-ferrous metals producers, our integrated, analytical approach helps maximize value in raw materials sales, purchasing, and processing—rapidly boosting margins by as much as 20 percent.

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