Expanding globally, with PRIDE as a company that does its part for people, society and the earth
Q. Social sustainability has been thrust into the spotlight worldwide.
Our mission as a diversified materials company is to provide a stable supply of the basic materials and components that underpin the development of society. Taking the sustainability of society as a whole into consideration, we develop resources, produce semi-manufactured goods through refining, manufacturing and processing, collect end products after they are used and recycle them to produce resources that will create new value.This vertical value chain is directly linked to the creation of a recycling-oriented society, which is one of the main features of our business model.We recycle 27 different elements.
We have increased the productivity of resources by making the most of them. In the meantime, we have developed technologies and processes to prevent environmental contamination. We believe that we have developed the world’s most advanced technologies and processes. We are already using these technologies at our production bases overseas, and believe that we can
provide technical support to emerging countries and developing countries, whose manufacturing industries are still evolving. Through these initiatives, we will help promote a recycling-oriented global society.
The abnormal weather in recent years tells us that we urgently need to take countermeasures against global warming from a global perspective. In the cement sector we use limestone as a raw material, and cannot avoid CO2 emissions. We are taking steps to promote innovation in the burning process of the cement production in cooperation with cement companies in Japan. We will make the most of our energy-saving technologies, our greatest strength, in our overseas operations.
I feel that the social need to address the global human rights issue has become more and more important from a variety of perspectives in recent years. The essence of human rights is to protect the dignity of each person. We should go back to basics and follow this universal principle.
As a corporate group that has developed and invested in mines for many years, our corporate culture values our harmonious coexistence with neighboring communities.
Mines play a symbolic role in these communities, and the mining industry needs to be in harmony with these communities and have a good relationship with them. I believe that the conflict minerals issue and other issues that have been attracting attention in recent years stem from the human rights issue in the supply chain. I think that we need a more rational and objective methodology and system to understand the actual circumstances surrounding human rights.
Q. Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake continues to be a significant social challenge. The Mitsubishi Materials Group has been contributing in a wide variety of ways.
As many as 60 of the group’s business facilities were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and our employees and other people involved have worked hard to rebuild these damaged facilities, focusing on disaster prevention more than ever. Unfortunately, I feel that reconstruction has been seriously delayed in the affected areas. A number of people are living in temporary housing and have been forced to live in restricted living conditions.
Under these circumstances, our primary responsibility is to supply the necessary materials to rebuild the affected areas. Since cement is indispensable as a basic reconstruction material, we are doing our best to create a supply system, including production and transportation systems, to provide a sufficient amount of cement. The entire cement industry has been making a concerted effort to help with reconstruction, with cement companies cooperating in supplying basic concrete materials, including sand and gravel. This year, the Japan Cement Association, which I am the chairman of, has made earthquake-related reconstruction contributions a priority.
Cement plants are helping to process the huge amount of disaster waste that has been generated in the affected areas. Cement plants can change this waste into raw materials. Taking advantage of this kind of social function, they have been taking in waste since October 2011. The Iwate Plant and Aomori Plant are still processing the disaster waste generated in Iwate prefecture. We are taking in waste based on these communities’ understanding, carefully measuring radiation and disclosing the results.
Meanwhile, we are participating in decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture in the areas of radiation measurement and control. Although decontamination work requires perseverance, we will continue to engage in it so as many evacuees as possible can return to their homes.
Q. Can you tell us your progress in establishing a Materials Premium in
your Medium-Term Management Plan, and your outlook?
The Mitsubishi Materials Group is involved in various businesses, including cement, metals, advanced materials and tools, and electronic materials. The core of our Medium-Term Management Plan is to create a Materials Premium, a value that is unique to the group as an integrated business, by effectively combining the technologies, experience, expertise and business infrastructure of each business.
Recycling has contributed significantly to our establishing a Materials Premium.
One of the main characteristics of our cement business is its production process, which allows us to use large amounts of difficult-to-process materials, such as disaster waste, as cement materials and thermal energy without creating any secondary waste. In the metals business, our copper smelting process enables us to use discarded home appliances and circuit boards—which can have an adverse effect on the
environment if they are improperly processed—as “urban mines,” and recycle them to create useful metal resources. We are the only company in Japan capable of carrying out the two social functions described above.
To increase our Premium for these operations, in the cement business we have built facilities to treat incinerated ash from municipal waste, and in the metals business we have restored and improved the Onahama Smelter and Refinery of Onahama Smelting & Refining Co., Ltd. to increase our capacity to process precious metal scrap from North America and Europe, among other regions.
One example of the group’s synergies is that the entire group is adding value by combining the expertise of the cement business—including its expertise in sales and
sales channels—with the use of copper slag, a byproduct of copper smelting, as part of a concrete aggregate. We plan on using copper slag as a new recycled material for earthquake-related reconstruction. Copper slag, which is dense and heavy, can be used in structures such as tsunami-resistant breakwaters. The copper slag produced at Onahama Smelter and Refinery, the only copper refinery in the Tohoku region, has been used for port reconstruction work in Tohoku as a locally produced and locally consumed material.
To further these achievements, we are promoting technology exchanges between our businesses. We can generate technologies and products that specialized manufacturers cannot by getting some of our in-house companies to apply the technologies developed by our other in-house companies and by combining different technologies. We also plan to increase collaboration between the Central Research Institute, which handles basic research for the group, and our production facilities.
We are also striving to establish a Materials Premium in our daily operations. We have created opportunities for different businesses to learn from each other in our Manufacturing Improvement Activities, which are intended to eliminate losses at production sites, and in our Eco Contest to promote environmental activities, and these initiatives have produced significant results. In our health and safety activities, we have begun to focus on sharing the experience and knowledge that has been accumulated at various workplaces.
Sharing information and promoting cooperation between segments are indispensable for expanding our global operations. We have been improving our Corporate Marketing & Overseas Business Development Department since 2011, steadily producing results by increasing our presence in the market and giving feedback of customer needs to development.
Understanding within the group has increased regarding our initiatives to establish a Materials Premium, and these initiatives are entering a new phase. We are pursuing all possibilities, while considering ways to accurately identify synergistic effects.
Q. What initiatives do you believe you need to promote to further your
operations in emerging countries, which is one of the pillars of your Medium-Term Management Plan?
To develop our overseas operations, we need to be welcomed in each country and territory, with local people saying, “Thank you for coming.” Toward that end, it is important to always consider local needs in our business operations and to promote our integration into local
communities and the development of local communities by reinvesting the profits from our overseas operations in the regions where we operate. Cultivating human resources that can manage our business operations in this way is a challenge that must be urgently addressed for the future.
Since I became president, I have emphasized the importance of learning throughout one’s career and human resource development under a policy of “training for all.” We are focusing in particular on cultivating human resources who are capable of working in the international arena. We have established a program at the Human Resources Development Center where
employees must learn the legal system, culture, history and customs in the countries they have been assigned to. Creating a foundation for mutual understanding among our employees is necessary to integrate our overseas operations into local communities. We are dispatching
young engineers to the overseas mines we help manage so they can gain experience, including interacting with local communities.
I always say to our employees, “Work with confidence and pride as employees of the Mitsubishi Materials Group.”There is a tapestry in my room that the former senior official
of a county in Iowa gave me when I was living in the United States. I was impressed by the word PRIDE in the tapestry, a word indicating the universal attitude any professional should have. I have been thinking about the meaning of this five-letter word and talked about its meaning to new employees this year.
This word is my message: that I would like our employees to have pride in the fact that they are in a business that provides the basic materials for society and contributes to the future of each country or territory.
Q. Finally, do you have any message for the group’s stakeholders?
The world population will likely increase significantly, and the shortage of natural resources is expected to become more serious. We need to create a recycling-oriented world
to sustain our society. We aim to become the world’s No. 1 industrial group in meeting this societal need.
To realize this vision, as a manufacturer we need to continue to create unique technologies and new value. We must continue to monitor global trends, and our business operations must reflect new social challenges and needs.That isn’t easy. We will, however, strive to overcome each challenge, emphasizing communication and partnership with our stakeholders, and keeping in mind the meaning of our Corporate Philosophy: doing our part “for people, society and the earth.”
I hope we can continue to rely on the support and understanding of all our stakeholders in the future.