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Minimills Around the World

Tokyo Steel Mizushima Continuous Caster

Note that this plant sits across from a refinery; the ship on the left is two football fields (600″) in length. As big as it is, this EAF minimill is still smaller than the footprint of an integrated steel producer. Oh, and like Nucor, Tokyo Steel has often been far more profitable than behemoths such as JFE.

Other heavy industry complexes are adjacent to it, including a Mitsubishi Motors assembly plant that I’ve visited – all told it’s about 15 square miles total of factory next to chemical plant next to… You don’t fish in Mizushima Bay!

Okayama Electric Furnace
Tokyo Steel Okayama
Tokyo Steel Okayama [Mizushima] Plant


  1. rhynew rhynew

    Your comment about not fishing in Mizushima Bay again brings to mind the proposed TPP deal between the US and many Asian countries on the Pacific Rim. Though this deal is increasingly less likely to pass given the American political scene, I wonder what kind of impact it would have on the Asian steel industry (in this case, Japan’s industry), considering that the deal would come with stringent environmental regulations on lots of different human activities. Would it inherently hurt minimills like Tokyo Steel? To what extent would a secure deal affect it profits?

  2. Japan is today very, very stringent on pollution. But that doesn’t help with (say) mercury because it doesn’t disappear over time, indeed it can potentially become more concentrated via food chain effects. There are places in the US with pristine water but where sediments contain toxic materials from a century ago. As long as the bottom is never stirred up, fine, but a week of heavy rain … so don’t eat the fish.

    So TPP is really irrelevant from that standpoint, at least for Japan. However phytosanitary and similar regulations can be used as de facto trade barriers, by leaving room for complaints and thereby imposing lots of costs to meet certification.

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