Kolbelco Angang Auto Steel commenced operations on 26 April following an opening ceremony at the plant in Anshan, Liaoning Province, China.

The company is a joint venture between Japanese steelmaker Kobe Steel and China’s Angang Steel Company. It was established in 2014 and is now producing advanced cold-rolled high-strength steel sheet.

The new plant has an annual capacity of 600kt/yr, employs 100 people and represents a total investment by Kobe and Angang Steel of 33.3 billion yen of which Kobe invested 49% and Angang Steel 51%.

Hiroya Kawasaki, chairman and president of Kobe Steel, and Tang Fuping, chairman of Anshan Iron & Steel Complex, were both present at the opening ceremony along with global representatives from the automotive industry.

According to Kobe Steel, China is the world’s largest automobile market where car production is widely anticipated to grow steadily.

At present, the buzz phrase in the Chinese automotive market is ‘passenger safety’. “Governmental guidance is strengthening safety standards and environmental initiatives,” said Kobe Steel, adding that automakers are working to ensure passenger safety by making car bodies stronger, but also reducing weight to improve fuel consumption. “As a result, demand for automotive high strength steel (AHSS) is anticipated to increasingly expand in the future,” Kobe added.

In the USA, Kobe Steel produces hot-dipped galvanised steel sheet through PRO-TEC Coating Company, which is a JV between Kobe and US Steel Corporation.

PRO-TEC has two production lines for hot-dipped galvanised sheet and a continuous annealing line.

In Europe the Japanese steelmaker has entered into an alliance with the Austrian voestalpine Group to produce AHSS. Kobe’s latest JV in China ‘has created a global supply network for high-strength steel sheet covering Japan, North America, Europe and China’.