Japan’s Nippon Steel plans on restarting the No 1 Kashima blast furnace (BF) in East Nippon Works Japanese division in late January 2021, bringing the steelmaker’s capacity utilization to 90pc. The move is planned to meet recovering steel demand, driven largely by the automotive industry. The 3.3mn mt per year BF was shut in April as steel demand weakened during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The No 1 Kashima blast produces about 8pc of the company’s total capacity from 15 BFs.
Nippon expects crude steel production to reach 18.1mn mt H2 2020, up by 3.5mn mt over H1 of 14.6mn mt. The No 2 BF in Kimitsu and a BF in Muroran were reignited in November of this year. The company forecasted a profit of JPY46.5bn ($447mn) in H2 2020 against a loss of JPY106.5bn in the first half of the year. In FY20, the company is committed to reducing fixed costs and improving the management of variable costs. FY20 revenues are expected to decrease by 18.6pc to JPY4.8tr from JPY5.9tr in FY 19.
In Japan, Nippon Steel is making a series of investments in electrical steel sheet, amounting to JPY104bn. Meanwhile, In the US, it plans to build a $500mn electric arc furnace (EAF) at Calvert, Alabama in a JV with ArcelorMittal, capable of producing 1.5mn mt of steel slabs for the hot strip mill. Construction is expected to take two years.