Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) is lowering the tapping ratio of its blast furnaces, extending the time between blasting, and taking other measures to reduce overall steel output volume in response to the adverse effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to what NSC describes as an 'immediate sharp drop in demand for steel products', the steelmaker has decided to implement the following additional measures:

•The banking* of its No. 2 blast furnace at the company's East Nippon Works’ Kimitsu area. Banking means to take measures to temporarily stop blast furnace production but make it possible to restart production at a later date by stopping the air blast flow. This will be carried out from the middle of May, just as soon as preparations are completed.

• Where coke ovens are concerned, and in accordance with the reduction in blast furnace tapping volume, NSC plans to adjust or suspend production of some of its coke ovens at the East Nippon Works’ Kimitsu area in addition to 'a substantial reduction of their operating rates'. This, claims the company, has already taken place.

"We intend to continue responding to changes in steel demand in Japan and overseas and carrying out prompt and effective production adjustment," the company said, adding that it has already banked its number two blast furnace at its Setouchi Works' Kure area and blast furnace number one at its East Nippon Works' Kashima area. Number one blast furnace at the company's Kansai Works' Wakayama area will be banked late in April, as soon as preparations are completed, the company said.