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23 July 2009

India’s Tata to open new $112mn furnace in Thailand

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Tata Steel (Thailand), the country's largest steel bar maker, said on Wednesday it planned to begin operating a new mini blast furnace in August, a move analysts say could boost margins and growth, reported Reuters.

Tata Steel, 70 percent owned by India's Tata Steel Global Holdings PTE, planned to produce 1.1 million tonnes of steel bars this year, close to last year's total, President Santi Charnkolrawee told reporters after a shareholders' meeting.

The mini blast furnace, located in the eastern province of Chonburi, will have an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes and needed investment of 3.8 billion baht ($112 million).

The furnace will produce high-quality steel products especially for the auto sector, Santi said. Some of its products would be supplied to the group.

Tata Steel (Thailand), formerly Millennium Steel, a unit of Siam Cement Group before its takeover by the Indian firm, has a total annual steel production capacity of 1.7 million tonnes.

More than 10 percent of its products were exported, mostly to Southeast Asia, and the rest was for the domestic market, where demand was expected to contract by 17 percent this year, Santi said.

Some brokers recently upgraded Tata Steel shares to "buy" from "sell" on expectation the new furnace would help reduce its dependence on the building material sector and boost long-term growth.


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