Nippon Steel plans India expansion; eyes mill in Southeast Asia

Japan’s Nippon Steel reiterated its plans to raise the crude steel production capacity of its ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) joint venture as well as to establish an integrated steel mill in Asia, the steelmaker said Nov. 30, as part of its global expansion plans.

Under consideration are plans to expand the capacity of AM/NS India, which includes “the construction of a second steel mill,” Eiji Hashimoto, representative director and president of Nippon Steel, said, as well as either buying or taking a taking a stake in a steel mill in Asia, particularly in Asean.

Recently in Southeast Asia, India’s Tata Steel sold its 100% stake in NatSteel Holdings to TopTip Holding, a Singapore-based steel and iron ore trading company, Sept. 30 for $172 million. Tata Steel also plans to sell Tata Steel Thailand, which is the largest domestic producer of long steel products with 1.7 million mt/year of production capacity.

On April 1, 2022, Nippon Steel plans to merge its two Thai subsidiaries, NS-Siam United Steel (NS-SUS) and Siam Tinplate (STP) to consolidate the manufacturing and sale of cold-rolled and hot-dip galvanized steel sheets. The merged company will have production capacities of 1 million mt/year of CR steel, 360,000 mt/year of hot-dip galvanized steel, 140,000 mt/year of tinplate and 120,000 mt/year of tin-free steel.

Nippon Steel’s expansion is in line with its restructuring plans that are expected to be completed by March 2026 which include reducing the number of blast furnaces in Japan to 10 from 15. The reduction will lower its domestic crude steel production capacity by 10 million mt/year or about 20% of its overall output.

“We will shift into high gear in full-scale oversea business that will ensure higher added value,” Hashimoto said, as Nippon Steel plans to build up 100 million mt/year of crude steel production capacity globally, up from about 71 million mt/year at present.

The output expansion includes doubling the production capacity of AM/NS India to 14 million mt/year while a new 1.5 million mt/year electric arc furnace at its AM/NS Calvert venture in Alabama is due to be started up over the first half of 2023.

Locally, Nippon Steel aims to start operating a new EAF at Hirohata in the first half of 2022 with a production capacity of 60,000 mt/month, which will be used for electrical steel sheet making.

While expanding its crude steel output, the Japanese steelmaker reiterated its goal to be carbon-neutral by 2050, with plans to cut its carbon dioxide emissions down to 70 million mt/year by 2030 from 91 million mt in 2019.

“Our idea of a ‘zero-carbon steel production process’ is to combine two steelmaking routes, utilizing their respective features: the BF and basic oxygen furnace (BOF) route, and the EAF route,” Hashimoto said.

Zero-carbon steel “has its own big challenges,” Hashimoto said, pointing out that the “needed innovations” will cost about Yen 500 billion ($4.4 billion) for research and development and Yen 4 trillion to Yen 5 trillion in capital expenditure.

— Clement Choo