Bridgestone to build new tire plant in Japan

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Bridgestone Corp. announced Thursday, Dec. 21, that it will construct a plant in Japan to produce large and ultralarge radial tires for mining and construction vehicles in response to growing global demand for those tires. Plans are to build the new plant in the Hibikinada Industrial Area in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Bridgestone intends to conclude an agreement in the first half of 2007 following a period of negotiation regarding project details with city officials and approval by the city council. It will be the first time in more than 30 years that Bridgestone has built a new tire plant in Japan, the last being the Hofu Plant, which started operation in 1976. Bridgestone also will increase production capacity of steel cord for mining and construction vehicle tires at the Saga Plant in order to support this new plant.

Bridgestone says demand for tires used for mining and quarrying equipment has been expanding significantly worldwide in step with increasing global production of mineral resources. Bridgestone earlier had announced its intention to boost production at the Shimonoseki Plant by the start of 2008, which is currently the only Bridgestone Group plant producing ultralarge radial tires for mining and construction equipment.

Construction of the new facility will begin in the second half of 2007, with production expected to get under way in the second half of 2009. Production capacity is projected to reach about 30 tons of new rubber a day by the second half of 2010. Bridgestone will look into the possibility of further expanding capacity at the new plant as the need arises in light of future demand.

The new plant will be the 52nd plant in Bridgestone Groups global production network for tires, which spans 23 nations; this includes four plants currently under construction in Mexico, China, Hungary and Poland.