Nippon Steel has restarted blast furnace No 1 (BF No 1) in the Kashima plant at its East Japan Works. The furnace was previously suspended because of weak demand from the construction industry and auto market due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. The furnace was placed in idle status in mid-April 2020. Plans to restart its operations began surfacing in December 2020.
In September 2019, BF No 1 was reconstructed after being damaged by a typhoon. The company restarted BF No 2 in the Kimitsu area in November 2020 also as a result of strong steel demand. Strong steel demand in Q4 2020 and a bright outlook for 2021 have sped up blast furnace restarts.
The company has also started production on a new continuous hot-dip galvanizing line at the Kimitsu plant to strengthen its ultra-high-tensile steel sheets supply. The new No 6 line has a monthly capacity of producing 33,000mt of both hot-dipped galvanized and galvanealed steel for the automotive industry. The initial plan to start the line’s operations in Q3 2020 was delayed due to uncertainties influenced by the pandemic.
Nippon Steel is the world’s third-largest and Japan’s largest steelmaker. Kimitsu produced 6.83mn mt of crude steel in FY2019 ended March 2020 at all its blast furnaces. Individual furnace production data is not reported.