Dec. 29 -- Comat Metal Products recently opened its fifth tinning line in China, bringing its total annual capacity to 1,050,000 tonnes a year. The150,000 tpy Jiangying City line came on stream in September and will serve the food, beverage, aerosol and general line markets. Comat's five plants now have capacities of 600,000 tpy of continuously annealed and 450,000 tpy of batch-annealed tinplate, pushing the company into a "Big Three" of tinplate producers along with Baosteel and Zhongyue, according to The Canmaker magazine. The company has already invested some US$300 million and general manager Bill Chen said: "We can be sure that, in the Chinese market, tinplate demand will increase continuously".
The China tinplate industry has been expanding very rapidly in recent years. ITRI China estimates that total production capacity increased by more than 300% from 1.43 million tpy in 2000 to 6.8 million tpy in 2010, with a huge surge from 2006. As a result capacity in China is now well above domestic demand, but there is still a further 1.2 million tonnes new capacity to be added until 2013. China has become a net exporter since 2008 and exported nearly 600,000 tonnes of tinplate in 2010.