Tungaloy, one of Japan’s longest established and leading cemented carbide and superhard material producers, reports that it hopes to resume production at its plant in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture this week (w/b April 11).
The company stated that some damage was suffered to production buildings during the earthquake four weeks ago, but that its main equipment for powder mixing/blending, pressing, sintering, grinding and coating are now functional.
The company also evacuated most of the 1,400 employees from its Iwaki plant because of the radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant which is about 40 km to the south of Iwaki. Iwaki City is now said to be safe from radiation, and product samples from the plant show that they not contaminated with nuclear radiation.
The company managed to restore basic management operations at its Iwaki headquarters on March 28, and with the help of its two other carbide plants in Nagoya and Kyushu, and stocks held in warehouses, it has minimised disruption to customers.
Tungaloy was also scheduled to inaugurate a new second state-of-the-art cemented carbide plant in Iwaki on March 22 with Berkshire Hathaway chairman, Warren Buffet, participating in the opening ceremony. This event was cancelled because of the earthquake and tsunami.
Berkshire Hathaway has a stake in Tungaloy through its acquisition of 80% of Tefen, Israel-based cemented carbide producer ISCAR Ltd in 2006. ISCAR subsequently purchased Tungaloy in 2008, having already purchased TaeguTec Ltd in Daegu, South Korea.
ISCAR now claims to be the second largest global carbide producer after Sandvik of Sweden. Berkshire Hathaway reports that profits at Iscar were up 159% in 2010, and the company may well surpass pre-recession levels in 2011. Sales of the carbide producer are improving throughout the world, particularly in Asia, states the company.