* Restarting blast furnace after 6-month closure
* Company says recovery in demand still slow
Tokyo: Nippon Steel Corp, the world’s second-biggest steelmaker, said on Tuesday it would restart operations at one of two blast furnaces that have been shut, as the worst of an industry slump appears over.
Nippon Steel plans to increase crude steel output in July-September by 30% from the previous quarter as carmakers and other manufacturers have started to replenish stocks.
But demand has yet to fully recover as improvements in the global economy remain fragile, the company said.
“The tempo of recovery is still slow, but we decided to restart the operations from the viewpoint of improving production efficiency,” a Nippon Steel spokesman said.
Nippon Steel said it would restart operations at a blast furnace in Oita, southern Japan, from 2 August. The company has nine blast furnaces, all of which are in Japan.
The Oita plant has been shut since February after a plunge in demand amid the global economic crisis forced the company to cut output by 40-45% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier.
Nippon Steel is expected to tumble into a huge loss in April-June hurt by lower output and a large one-off loss related to the valuation of stocks of raw materials. It will announce first-quarter results on 29 July.