Major Japanese steel firms reported some disruptions to their operations stemming from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan's northeast coast March 11.
Japan is the world's No. 2 steel-producing country behind China, according to the World Steel Association.
Japan's top steel maker Nippon Steel Corp. said some of its Kamaishi Steelworks facilities were "inundated by tsunami" and are not operating. Kamaishi's port facilities have been damaged and recovery efforts are underway, the company said.
The company's Kimitsu Works resumed blast-furnace operation and planned to restart its rolling processes once the iron and steel-making processes began operating again. Nippon resumed shipments from its steelworks after Japan's government lifted the tsunami warning.
JFE Holdings Inc. restarted a blast furnace in Chiba and another one in Kawasaki, according to a Bloomberg News report. The company experienced power outages at the plants after the earthquake, Bloomberg reported.
Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. suspended production at its Kashima Steelworks. The earthquake damaged port facilities and upstream manufacturing operations, including the quay and quay cranes, coke gas holders and auxiliary facilities of the coke oven and the blast furnace.
All other Sumitomo facilities are operating normally, the company said.
The region holds 22 million tons of steel-making raw materials that could be impacted, said Steven Randall, managing director of The Steel Price Index. But Randall said any impact on iron ore supplies in the affected area would marginally impact the world's seaborne iron-ore market of nearly 1 billion tons.
Immediate steel-making capacity could be reduced, but in the long term reconstruction efforts may boost demand, Randall said.
Randall noted that rebar futures for October delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 1.65% on March 14 while most other indicators declined.
"It's early for anyone to have a clear view, but this would appear to be good for steel makers," Randall said.
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