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Kobe Steel to start up new titanium melt shop in January

Investments in upstream and downstream operations raise production capacity

December 10, 2007

TOKYO, December 10, 2007- Kobe Steel, Ltd. inaugurated a new 3.5-billion-yen titanium melt shop today at its Takasago Works in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan. After undergoing trial operation, the melt shop will go into full production in January 2008.

The melt shop uses the company's proprietary Kobe Method (a vacuum arc remelting method), which makes possible the use of titanium scrap. Kobe Steel aims to make the new facility the most cost competitive melt shop in Japan. The new melt shop is located adjacent to the current melt shop to stabilize production and improve the operational efficiency of both shops. Kobe Steel aims to steadily grow its business to effectively respond to the expanding demand for titanium mill products.

Since 2006, Kobe Steel has been increasing its overall integrated production capacity of titanium mill products. The inauguration of the new melt shop completes a series of capital investments that covers all of Kobe Steel's locations involved in titanium production: Takasago Works, Kakogawa Works and Kobe Special Tube Co., Ltd.

The other projects consisted of upgrading the counterblow hammer for closed die forging at Takasago and constructing a new welded tube line at group company Kobe Special Tube Co., Ltd. in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Both projects were completed in May 2007. Completed in 2006 was the expansion of the continuous annealing-pickling line for titanium sheet at Kakogawa Works in Hyogo Prefecture.

The higher capacity enables Kobe Steel to manufacture more titanium alloy forgings for next-generation aircraft engines and meet the growing demand in China and the Middle East for commercially pure titanium products used in infrastructure projects. Japan's titanium industry has been undergoing strong growth in recent years, and in the current fiscal 2007 (ending March 2008), production and shipments of titanium mill products are anticipated to be robust. Not only for Japanese manufacturers, this trend is similar worldwide. Bolstered by rising aircraft orders and growing demand from the energy industries, demand for titanium products is brisk.

Kobe Steel pioneered Japan's titanium industry when in 1949 it became the first company to begin research and development of this material. With over a half century of experience, Kobe Steel is Japan's only integrated producer of titanium mill products with operations ranging from melting to mill product manufacturing. The company contributes to the development of industry by supplying a wide variety of titanium mill products. Information on Kobe Steel is available at: www.kobelco.co.jp
Other Capital Investments
Downstream capital investments
1. Upgrade of the counterblow hammer for closed die forging at Takasago Works
Location:   Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture
Start-up:   May 2007
Investment:   Computer control and stabilization of hammer blow energy

Japan's largest counterblow hammer is used to manufacture closed die forgings for jet engine disks. Supporting the growing aircraft business of Japan's heavy industry manufacturers, Kobe Steel is meeting the need for value-added titanium alloy forged products used in aircraft engine disks and other applications.

2. Higher production capacity of continuous annealing-pickling line at Kakogawa Works

Location:   Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture
Production capacity:   30% increase in throughput
Start-up:   December 2006 (already in operation)

This dedicated continuous annealing-pickling line for titanium sheet is the only one of its type in the world. The hot and cold strip mills, located adjacent and used in steel production, also roll titanium sheet. The proximity to the strip mills contributes to maintaining and improving the integrated quality assurance system for titanium sheet products.

3. New titanium welded tube line at Kobe Special Tube Co., Ltd.
Location:   Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Production capacity:   30% increase
Start-up:   May 2007

The new dedicated line at Japan's largest titanium welded tube plant will help meet demand from power plants in China, seawater desalination plants in the Middle East, and other applications. In addition to the higher production capacity, the layout was improved, which further increased productivity.