Firms cut output on Japan parts shortages

City A.M. Reporter
Sony has cut output at five further plants and Toyota has delayed restarting assembly lines, as the full impact of Japan's earthquake and tsunami hits the global supply of parts.

Electronics and automotive companies have been hardest hit by the turmoil, but in a sign of how the ripples are spreading, Rio Tinto has also warned the disruptions posed a threat to its expansion plans.

Miners are already facing longer waits for key equipment as companies ramp up exploration, making shutdowns at plants manufacturing heavy earth-moving equipment and electronics more likely to create additional pressures.

"I expect the Japanese situation to impact deliveries of Japanese-sourced equipment ... but so far we are OK," Mark Cutifani, chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti, told the Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit on Tuesday.

More than ten days after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ten-metre tsunami struck the northeast of Japan, manufacturers are struggling to get back up to speed as factories grapple with power cuts, crippled infrastructure and a shortage of parts.

Companies from Apple Inc to General Motors Co and Nokia Oyj are feeling the impact.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would now remain closed until at least Saturday and it was not sure when they would reopen. Production lost between March 14-26 would be about 140,000 units.

Electronics giant Sony said five more of its plants, mostly in central and southern Japan and producing digital and video cameras, televisions and microphones, were hit by parts shortages and would close or cut output until the end of March.

"If the shortage of parts and materials supplied to these plants continues, we will consider necessary measures, including a temporary shift of production overseas," the maker of PlayStation games consoles said in a statement on Tuesday.