Japan Cu Alloy Fabricators’ Actual Capacity Shrinks by 5.4% in F2011

Japanese copper alloy fabricators’ actual output capacity was estimated at 80,900 tonnes per month as of the end of March 2012, which shrank by 4,600 tonnes or 5.4% from a year earlier, according to Japan Copper & Brass Association. The operating rate was estimated at 83% in March 2012, the secondly lowest in 10 years following March 2009 when the operating rate remarkably deteriorated just after Lehman Shock.

Japanese copper alloy fabricators have downsized their actual output capacities by layoff and old facility disposal along with the shrinkage of the domestic demand for copper alloy products in current years. The actual output capacity decreased by more than 20% from the peak 102,300 tonnes in 2004 and represented lower than 81,900 tonnes in 2009 when the operations were significantly low after Lehman Shock.

The actual output capacity shrank by 2,400 tonnes to 23,200 tonnes per month for copper sheet and strip as of the end of March 2012 compared with a year earlier. Japanese copper sheet and strip makers downsized their capacities when their shipment deteriorated for lead frames due to the weak demand for digital appliances, the slow export impacted by strong yen trend and the damage by Thai flood.

The actual output capacity for copper tube lowered by 2,200 tonnes to 10,800 tonnes per month. The major factor was Hitachi Cable’s withdrawal from domestic copper tube production by the end of March 2012. Meanwhile, domestic peak demand is estimated at around 12,000 tonnes per month. The rest 3 Japanese copper tube makers hit 98% of the high operating rate in March.

Among other items, the actual output capacity increased by 400 tonnes to 11,700 tonnes per month for brass sheet and strip while decreased by 300 tonnes to 24,200 tonnes per month for brass bar and wire. The actual output capacity kept unchanged at 4,400 tonnes for phosphor bronze sheet and strip. The shipment of phosphor bronze sheet and strip is seriously decreasing for connectors while domestic output capacity wasn’t downsized. Thus the averaged operating rate was as low as 62% in March.