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Kobe Steel to begin construction of upgraded brown coal demonstration plant in Indonesia

Project to be carried out under the Japan Coal Energy Center

May 23, 2007

TOKYO, May 23, 2007 - Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces the start of construction of a large-scale, 600-ton-per-day demonstration plant in Indonesia to upgrade brown coal into higher quality coal for use in power generation.

On May 24, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the Satui coal mine in southeastern Kalimantan, Indonesia. Plans call for the plant to begin trial operation in October 2008. Total investments in the project are forecast to reach about 8 billion yen.

From Japan, officials from Kobe Steel, JCOAL, and the Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry will attend the groundbreaking. Representing Indonesia will be the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as well as other officials.

Demonstration project details

Although Indonesia has an abundance of brown coal, the high moisture content makes utilization of this natural resource difficult. The demonstration project aims to upgrade the brown coal into high-rank coal so that it can be used for power generation. The demonstration plant is scheduled for completion in June 2008, after which brown coal will be introduced in actual trial operation. Demonstrative operation will subsequently begin in October 2008 and continue for the next year and a half to the first quarter of 2010. Bulk samples of upgraded brown coal (UBC) will be supplied for trial use to a number of power companies, including Japanese power companies. Following successful demonstration, Kobe Steel aims to begin commercial marketing of the UBC Process from the second quarter of 2010.

The UBC demonstration plant project has the support of Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry through the Japan Coal Energy Center (JCOAL), in which Kobe Steel is a member. With its long experience in the steel industry and know-how in the power generation business, Kobe Steel will contribute its technological expertise in energy utilization and environmental technologies to the UBC demonstration project.

To carry out this project, Kobe Steel signed cooperation agreements with natural resource investment company PT BUMI Resources Tbk and its coal subsidiary, PT Arutmin Indonesia, to construct and operate a demonstration plant at Arutmin's Satui mine in southeastern Kalimantan, Indonesia.

World Coal Situation

Coal meets one-fourth of the world's energy demand. It is the second-most important resource after oil. Over 20% of the electricity for everyday use in Japan is made by coal-fired power generation. Japan is dependent on overseas energy supplies. Coal is more abundant than oil and gas in terms of volume, and reserves are spread throughout the world. A stable source of energy, coal is expected to continue playing an important role in the future.

The variety of coal used by many countries, including Japan, is high-rank bituminous coal. Conversely, a representative low-rank coal is brown coal. Low-rank coal, comprising about half of the world's coal reserves, has a high moisture content and low heat value. It is also prone to spontaneous combustion. These factors make it difficult to utilize. On the other hand, Indonesian brown coal is noted for its low sulfur and ash content, as well as for its large reserves. Roughly 85% of the reserves in Indonesia consist of low-rank coal.

Kobe Steel has been involved in coal utilization research for many years. Starting in 1980, Kobe Steel participated in a national project to develop brown coal liquefaction, a coal-to-oil technology. The UBC Process currently under development uses dewatering technology developed during those years to reduce the moisture in the brown coal. This innovative five-step process uses light oil to efficiently remove the water in the brown coal.

Upgraded Brown Coal Process

1. Low-rank coal is pulverized.
2. The pulverized coal is mixed with recycled oil (normally petroleum light oil) and heavy oil to make slurry.
3. The slurry is then heated in an evaporator and the moisture is evaporated.
4. The oil is recovered from the dewatered slurry using a decanter. At this stage, the upgraded coal is still in a powdery state.
5. The upgraded coal is briquetted for easy transportation.

Kobe Steel began development of the UBC Process in 1993, applying slurry dewatering technology used in coal liquefaction to upgrade low-rank coal. Using a 100-kg-per-day bench-scale unit built at Kakogawa Works, Kobe Steel began working on the practical application of the process in the mid-1990s. In 2001, Japan and Indonesia adopted the UBC Process as a national project. In the ensuing years to 2004, a 3-ton-per-day pilot plant was constructed and operated in Indonesia.

The new, scaled-up demonstration plant provides the next major step to realizing a commercial UBC plant. The UBC Process raises the heat value of brown coal 1.5 times, to the same level as high-rank bituminous coal and has only one-third the ash. At the same time, it solves the problem of shipping and storage limitations, making possible the utilization of upgraded coal as a substitute for high-rank coal. UBC has the potential of becoming a clean, outstanding source of energy. Both Indonesia and Japan have high expectations for the early commercialization of the UBC Process.

Background Information

Japan Coal Energy Center (JCOAL)

The Japan Coal Energy Center is a non-profit organization under Japan's Ministry of Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. Its activities range from coal mining to coal utilization. JCOAL promotes increasing the world coal supply and environment friendly coal utilization to reduce the global environment burden. To contribute to the stable supply of energy and sound growth of the industrial economy, JCOAL undertakes coal research, business support, human resources development, coal surveys and coal research. More information is available at: www.jcoal.or.jp/index-en.html

PT BUMI Resources Tbk

PT BUMI Resources Tbk is one of Indonesia's leading natural resource companies. BUMI's core business consists of coal companies PT Arutmin Indonesia and PT Kaltim Prima Coal, along with oil and gas subsidiary Gallo Oil (Jersey) Ltd. More information is available at: www.bumiresources.com

PT. Arutmin Indonesia

PT Arutmin Indonesia is Indonesia's fourth largest coal company, producing 15.3 million metric tons in 2006. More information is available at: www.arutmin.com

Kobe Steel, Ltd.

Kobe Steel, Ltd. is one of Japan's leading steelmakers and producers of aluminum and copper products. Other businesses include welding consumables, industrial machinery, engineering, construction equipment, and electronic materials. More information is available at: www.kobelco.co.jp/english/index.html