Japan’s leading steel company Nippon Steel plans to launch idle blast furnace # 2 at its Kimitsu plant in Chiba Prefecture by the end of the year in response to growing orders from the domestic auto and consumer electronics industries. The plant was idle in June due to a sudden drop in steel demand from the coronavirus pandemic. Six of Nippon Steel’s 15 home appliances are idle, including those that have undergone renovations. Nippon Steel’s resumption of production will restore steel production in Japan to about 90% of pre-coronavirus levels.
Nippon Steel’s actions to restore production capacity follow the relaunch of the blast furnace last month by its domestic counterpart JFE Steel. JFE Steel has shut down blast furnace # 4 in Hiroshima Prefecture, one of eight Japanese units in its group. The company planned to restart the oven this month, but pushed back the date to mid-September in response to growing orders from the auto industry. One JFE Steel blast furnace is currently idle.
Japan produced 6.44 million tons of steel in August. Both Nippon Steel and JFE Steel plan to increase steel production by 2 million tonnes each in the second half of the fiscal year to March 2021, up from the first half.