• Kyodo

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Japan’s largest steel-maker, Nippon Steel Corp., said Friday it will halt two blast furnaces, one in the city of Wakayama and another in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, to accelerate a cutback in output amid deteriorating market conditions.

The steel-maker’s Kure Works in Hiroshima has two blast furnaces, one of which has already been halted. The latest decision effectively means Kure Works will be totally shut down, with the company aiming to complete the process by September 2023, officials said.

Nippon Steel’s Wakayama plant also has two blast furnaces, and the remaining one will continue operations, the company said.

Nippon Steel, which currently operates 13 blast furnaces to produce crude steel, has been reviewing its operations across the country as domestic demand continues to shrink and global steel prices remain under pressure from a supply glut caused by aggressive competition from Chinese steel-makers.

Last year, in a bid to improve profitability by focusing more on growing overseas markets, Nippon Steel bought major Indian steel-maker Essar Steel India Ltd. jointly with ArcelorMittal SA.

Wakayama Works is one of the major plants established by Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., with which Nippon Steel merged in 2012. Its main products include seamless steel pipes for purposes such as oil and gas drilling.

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