Hyundai Steel, Korea’s second-largest steelmaker, has begun operation of a new blast furnace intended to make steel for automobile panels to address customer demand amid escalating competition.

The steelmaker which is affiliated with Hyundai Motor Group held the opening ceremony for its third furnace in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province on Friday 13 September 2013.

“Despite the worldwide economic slump, Hyundai Steel has invested some 9.9 trillion won ($9.1 billion) over the past seven years to reinforce steel manufacturing facilities,” said Chung Mong-koo, chairman of the conglomerate.

“This has not only created some 200,000 new jobs in the local community but also contributed to the nation’s economic growth.”

The new furnace will give the site an annual capacity of 12Mt making Hyundai Steel the world’s 11th largest steelmaker. This reflects a significant leap from the 31st rank when the first furnace was commissioned in 2006.

The steelmaker has achieved its position purely through infrastructure investment, rather than depending on corporate acquisitions.

The affiliation with Hyundai Motor connects the steel firm to its key customers, such as carmakers, shipbuilders and construction companies.

“One of the key functions of the new furnace will be to produce high value-added products such as steel sheets for cars and plates for ships,” the official said.

The company will also build a special manufacturing unit on the site to produce steel parts to be used in car engines and transmissions.

“Last year, 2.3Mt, or some 30% of the automobile-related steel items, were imported,” he said.

Source: Daily 'The Korea Herald', Seoul; 13 Sept 2013