Japan Electric Furnace Steel Makers to Advance Reorganizations

Japanese electric furnace steel makers have rapidly advanced reorganizations. JFE Steel Group’s four electric furnaces, JFE Bars & Shapes, Daiwa Steel, Tohoku Steel and Toyohira Steel, decided the integration in April 2012. Tohoku Steel won’t restart the operation after the disaster of the Great East Japan Earthquake and will sell productive facilities. JFE Bars & Shapes’ Kashima works and Daiwa Steel’s Tobu works succeeded rebar production instead of Tohoku Steel.

Tohoku Steel had rebar production capacity at 30,000 tonnes per year. The company was one of the largest electric furnace steel makers and the major ferrous scrap consumers in North Japan. However, the firm had faced low operation and low profitability due to the decrease of public projects and the weakness of local economy in the region.

On the other hand, Tokyo Steel Manufacturing decided to close down Takamatsu works in Shikoku area at the end of March 2012. The works’ output was 5,000 tonnes per month mainly for rebar in early December, significantly shrunk from the peak 70,000 tonnes in 1990s. Wire rod production was only a few hundred tonnes in recent days.

Takamatsu works got into the red in fiscal 2010 ended in March 2011. Tokyo Steel Manufacturing plans to utilize human resources and to focus on more profitable flat products than long products.

Some players try to reduce negative impact of imported steel products by small-lot and quick delivery service. Japanese electric furnace steel industry cannot maintain conventional productive items and output level in the current severe market circumstances. They should seek new surviving measures.

Japanese small bar export hit the peak at 3.596 million tonnes in fiscal 1982 while decreased to 283,000 tonnes in fiscal 2010. The export is likely to stay at the low level in fiscal 2011 due to high yen rate. Some players consider billet export for effective utilization of ferrous scrap in Japan. However, billet export also seems to decrease in fiscal 2011 from fiscal 2010 along strong yen trend. On the other hand, export of specific steel products such as flat bar may increase to Asia.

Many electric furnaces have already opened offshore productive bases. Kyoei Steel’s Vietnamese subsidiary, Vina Kyoei Steel decided installment of an electric furnace to build up integrated production system. Yamato Kogyo operates Siam Yamato Steel in Thailand, YK Steel in South Korea and Nucor Yamato in the U.S.A.

New products are also cultivated. Some of electric furnace steel makers also enhance high-intensity rebars. Tokyo Steel Manufacturing intensively expands the sales of steel sheet items. Topy Industries is increasing the sales of deformed shaped steel. Oji Steel is developing new deformed flat bar.