Bridgestone Building First Tire Plant In Japan In 30 Years

Cites demand for mining and construction vehicles.

Bridgestone, the world's largest tire manufacturer, said Thursday it will build a plant to produce large and ultralarge radial tires for mining and construction vehicles in Japan, its first new plant there in 30 years.

Bridgestone will spend about $240 million on the new facility, and said it will also increase production capacity of steel cord for mining and construction vehicle tires at its Saga plant in order to support this new plant.

The main applications for the large and ultralarge tires will be mining and quarrying equipment used around the world. Demand for those tires has been expanding significantly worldwide in step with increasing global production of mineral resources, the company said.

Bridgestone had earlier announced its intention to boost production at its Shimonoseki plant by the start of 2008, which is currently the only Bridgestone Group plant producing ultralarge radial tires for mining and construction equipment. The decision to build the new production site was made based on projections of continued growth in demand.

Construction will begin in the second half of 2007, with production expected to get underway in the second half of 2009. Production capacity is projected to reach around 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 Group's global production network for tires, in 23 nations. This includes four plants currently under construction in Mexico, China, Hungary and Poland.

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