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Nippon Steel may shut down more blast furnaces in Japan to reduce costs

Nippon Steel Corp. may shut down more blast furnaces in Japan in addition to the two furnaces scheduled for closing in March 2024, to save on costs on the back of falling demand and lower steel prices in Asia, according to Executive Vice President Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Reuters reported Dec. 9.

In November, the company announced slashing its fiscal 2019 profit forecast by 70.3% year over year to ¥100 billion due to the decline in the supply-demand environment and the impact of disasters during the period.

"All of the facilities including blast furnaces are possible targets of consolidations," Miyamoto said. However, he clarified that "nothing has been decided yet."

The report said that Miyamoto declined to comment on possible job cuts, instead saying that redundancy in jobs could be offset by transferring workers to other tasks within the group as there were shortages in some positions.

Meanwhile, Miyamoto said the plan of Nippon Steel and ArcelorMittal to double Essar Steel India Ltd.'s output in the coming years remains unchanged, but there might be revisions in the steps to meet softer steel demand in India and sliding natural gas prices.

"We'll look into economic efficiency to decide whether to build a blast furnace or direct reduction plant," Miyamoto said.