Nippon Steel to Idle More Furnaces amid Virus Outbreak

Economy

Tokyo, May 8 (Jiji Press)--Nippon Steel Corp. <5401> said Friday it will idle two additional blast furnaces in Japan starting in early July, due to slumping steel demand for automobiles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The two blast furnaces are in Muroran, Hokkaido, northern Japan, and in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

The move will leave six of the company's 15 blast furnaces in the country shut. These six account for some 30 pct of its total domestic production capacity.

At a conference call with reporters, Nippon Steel President Eiji Hashimoto said that the company will focus on minimum operations, describing the current situation as "an unprecedented crisis."

The company's domestic steel business "will post a huge loss" in the fiscal first half ending in September, Hashimoto said. But it will "achieve a turnaround no matter what, after the pandemic is contained," he said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press