Mitsubishi Materials benefits from signs of recovery in Japan and USA, looks to recycling of rare earths and tungsten

November 12, 2013

In financial results published by Mitsubishi Materials Corp (MMC), Japan, the company has reported benefits from the recovery in the Japanese economy due in the main to a general increase in housing construction and reconstruction of earthquake damage, and also the correction of the recent appreciation in the value of the Japanese Yen.

MMC also reported increased sales in North America but noted a continued slowdown in the pace of economic growth in emerging countries such as China and India.

Consolidated net sales for the half year (April to September 2013) totalled Yen 703,688 billion ($7.07 billion), up 10.7% on the corresponding period in 2012. Operating profit jumped by 26% to Yen 33.3 billion ($335 million). MMC is forecasting full year (2013-2014) sales to reach Yen 1.48 billion.

MMCs ‘Advanced Materials & Tools’ division, which includes cemented carbides, PM bearings, and sintered parts, saw sales increase by 2.8% to Yen 72.5 billion ($728.6 million) with operating profit up 17.9% to Yen 7.5 billion ($75.3 million ).

Mitsubishi Materials also stated in its recently published Annual Report for the 2013 financial year that it is developing recycling technology to recover rare earth magnets from the motors of scrapped vehicles. The company is undertaking validation tests to extract the magnets from hybrid vehicles. These tests are being subsidised by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) in Japan.

With the forecasted annual number of scrapped vehicles rising to 400,000 by 2020, these contributions are expected to ensure more stable methods of procuring rare earth elements and reduce the use of natural resources.

MMC states that it will also increase the recycling ratio of tungsten through recovery from scrapped tools in order to obtain a more stable source of tungsten supply, a key raw material of cemented carbide products.  

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