Nippon Steel restarts Kimitsu furnace after demand recovery

Nippon Steel, Japan’s largest integrated plant, has relaunched a canopy blast furnace in the Kimitsu area of ​​its East Nippon Works in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, in response to increased demand for steel from consumers, especially car manufacturers.

The restart was completed on the afternoon of November 24, as planned, and the furnace is expected to return to normal operation very soon, according to a company spokesman. Steel demand in the current half of the current fiscal year from October 2020 to March 2021 was already higher than in the first half of the year, the official explained, but the recovery rate was faster than expected and the restarted furnace should return to normal. normal production as quickly as possible.

Nippon Steel plans to increase its steelmaking capacity utilization across the company to 80% during this half in response to improved domestic demand, up from 60-70% in the first half, as previously reported.

The newly launched blast furnace Kimitsu, dubbed No. 2, with an internal volume of 4,500 cubic meters, was closed on June 14 as part of Nippon Steel’s production adjustments in response to stagnating steel demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. …

Another blast furnace, Kimitsu, No. 4 with a volume of 5,555 cubic meters, was operating normally. “# 4 is already operating at a higher level and we now have # 2 to produce more, we will closely monitor demand trends and decide when to restart our other stacked ovens,” the official added.

Nippon Steel will not comment on the production capacity of each blast furnace, but according to the company, Kimitsu produced 6.83 million tonnes of steel during fiscal 2019 (April 2019 – March 2020).

Meanwhile, a few days before the Kimitsu relaunch, Nippon Steel re-ignited furnace # 2 at its Muroran Works in Hokkaido on November 22 after completing a lining change that included expanding the internal volume to 3,014 cubic meters from 2902 cubic meters as before. reported. A Tokyo-based trader suggested that Nippon Steel would like the relaunched Muroran furnace to return to normal operation faster, because it is the only furnace that Muroran hosts and which is the production base for specialty steels that are now in high demand among car manufacturers.

The launch of the Kimitsu and Muroran furnaces this month means the company still has three blast furnaces out of 14 in operation. These are kiln # 1 in the Kashima area of ​​the East Nippon plant, kiln # 2 in the Kure portion of the Setuchi mill in western Japan, and kiln # 1 in the Wakayama area of ​​the Kansai mill in the west. Japan.

The next furnace Nippon Steel could restart may be in Kashima, the trader noted. “The declining availability of steel limited Japan’s ability to export steel, while requests from overseas customers were very active. “Nippon Steel can look forward to expanding its export business by restarting another furnace, and Kashima is one of Nippon Steel’s major export bases,” he predicts.

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