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Heavy industry does not have a single fixed meaning as compared to light industry. It can mean production of products which are either heavy in weight or in the processes leading to their production. In general, it is a popular term used within the name of many Japanese and Korean firms, meaning 'construction' for big projects. Example projects include the construction of large buildings, chemical plants, the H-IIA rocket and also includes the production of construction equipment such as cranes and bulldozers. Alternatively, heavy industry projects can be generalized as more capital intensive or as requiring greater or more advanced resources, facilities or management.

Heavy industry in law and government

Heavy industry is often defined by governments and planners in terms of its impacts on the environment. These definitions concentrate on the seriousness of any capital investment required to begin production or of the ecological effect of its associated resource gathering practices and by-products. In these senses, the semiconductor industry is regarded as "heavier" than the consumer electronics industry even though microchips are much more expensive by weight than the products they control.

Heavy industry is also sometimes a special designation in local zoning laws.

Many pollution control laws are based on heavy industry, since heavy industry is usually blamed for pollution more than any other economic activity.

Heavy industry in firm names

Many conglomerate in South Koreamarker (chaebol) and Japanmarker (keiretsu), call divisions or companies responsible for capital-intensive manufacturing (shipbuilding, mining, industrial machinery) their "heavy industry" group. All industries have heavy machinery.


South Korea


  • Morris Teubal, Heavy and Light Industry in Economic Development The American Economic Review, Vol. 63, No. 4. (Sep., 1973), pp. 588-596.
  • Some Definitions in the Vocabulary of Geography, IV, British Association Glossary Committee, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 118, No. 3. (Sep., 1952), pp. 345-346.

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