From Maintaining Stable Supplies of Materials and Products to Recycling

Issues surrounding resources and our role

Our role as a diversified material manufacturer

As a group rooted in the coal and mining industry, dating back to the birth of the Mitsubishi Group, we have continued to play a supporting role in the modernization of Japan. Through various changes over the years, we have continued to improve our technical capabilities as a diversified material manufacturer, whilst supplying the basic materials that we all need and doing our bit to enrich people's lives.
Demand for mineral resources has skyrocketed in recent years, due to industrial development in emerging countries. While international capital continues to extend its dominance, in the form of major global resource suppliers, we are also facing increasing restrictions on resources as a result of more and more resource-producing countries imposing export restrictions as part of protectionist policies.

Major Sources of Metal Resource Imports to Japan (2012)

Major Sources of Metal Resource Imports to Japan (2012)

*Source: Ministry of Finance Trade Statistics

In areas undergoing development meanwhile, activities inevitably have a significant impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local people. It is therefore essential to reach a sufficient consensus before proceeding, taking into account factors such as human rights and employment issues.

As Japan is reliant on imports from other countries for the majority of its mineral resources, one of our top priorities must be to secure resources and maintain stable supplies of the materials and products that the Japanese people need, whilst at the same time ensuring reasonable prices and upholding fair trade. We consider this to be another of our key roles as a diversified material manufacturer, in the interests of resource security as well as maintaining the competitiveness of the wide-ranging industries that constitute our customers.

The growing importance of resource recycling

With so many different challenges becoming apparent in the resource sector, there has been a renewed focus on the importance of resource recycling. In the EU for instance there has been much discussion regarding the concept of a “circular economy.”
One of the key characteristics of our operations here at the Mitsubishi Materials Group is our "urban mine" recycling business, which enables us to extract (recycle) resources more efficiently than developing natural underground resources, with less of an impact on the environment or local communities.
As outlined in this report's special feature, our E-scrap recycling operations similarly enable us to efficiently recycle high-value resources such as gold and silver as part of the metal smelting processes we use for our core operations, whilst at the same time effectively separating and treating harmful substances.
We continue to step up initiatives aimed at increasing intake of such materials, so that we can live up to our customers' expectations and meet needs on a global scale.
On other fronts, we are working to recycle a wide range of resources that are inextricably linked to public demand, including aluminum cans, used home appliances, electronic devices and vehicles, which contain more and more electrical components these days. In recent years, we have also been playing a supporting role behind the scenes in the Tohoku area, through activities such as decontaminating and processing large volumes of rubble from the Great East Japan Earthquake using our high-temperature burning process for cement.
Our expert knowledge of materials is what enables us to recycle and reuse the precious resources that nature provides. We take pride in that fact and are determined to become the leading business Group committed to creating a sustainable world.

High hopes for Mitsubishi Materials in the field of global resource recycling

Takeshi ShimotayaTakeshi Shimotaya
Managing Director Sustainavision Ltd. (UK-based CSR consultant)

The concept of a “circular” recycling-oriented economy has been gaining ground in recent years, particularly in Europe. Unlike the current situation, whereby natural resources can be freely mined, manufactured, consumed and disposed of on a global scale, a circular economy would involve transforming mechanisms throughout society from a broader perspective, in an effort to avoid risks stemming from the depletion of resources in the future.
One of the goals for sustainable economic growth set out under the EU's Europe 2020 strategy is to improve resource efficiency. The aim is to establish Europe as a platform for resource efficiency and set out a road map for more efficient use of resources within Europe, as part of an active commitment to establishing a circular economy involving companies as well as other organizations.
Japan meanwhile has continued to lead the world in activities aimed at reducing environmental impact by reducing, reusing and recycling waste, based on the concept of a recycling-oriented society. While all this has been going on, Mitsubishi Materials has built up experience, expertise and advanced technologies through its diverse recycling operations, particularly through recycling at its nonferrous metal smelting and cement plants.
With growing international momentum to create a circular economy, there are high hopes that Mitsubishi Materials could make an even greater contribution as a world leader in the future, in terms of avoiding risks on a global scale and establishing a genuinely sustainable society.

The Resource Recycling Network of the Mitsubishi Materials Group

Recycling network of Mitsubishi Materials

Green text denotes Mitsubishi Materials premises.

Cement Plants
  • A-1 Aomori Plant
  • A-2 Iwate Plant
  • A-3 Yokoze Plant
  • A-4 Kyushu Plant (Kanda District)
  • A-5 Kyushu Plant (Kurosaki District)
  • B-1 Naoshima Smelter & Refinery
  • B-2 Ikuno Plant
  • B-3 Hosokura Metal Mining Co., Ltd. (Hosokura Smelter)
  • B-4 Onahama Smelting & Refining Co., Ltd. (Onahama Smelter)
Metal Recycling Plants
  • C-1 Materials Eco-Refining Co., Ltd. Onahama Plant
  • C-2 Materials Eco-Refining Co., Ltd. Akita Plant
Metal Processing Plants
  • D-1 Tsukuba Plant
Tungsten Recycling Plants
  • E-1 Japan New Metals Co., Ltd. Akita Plant
Functional Materials Plants
  • F-1 Sanda Plant
  • F-2 Shizuoka DBA Center
Silicon-Related Plants
  • G-1 Yokkaichi Plant
  • G-2 SUMCO Corp. Kyushu Factory (Imari)
  • G-3 SUMCO Technology Corp.
Chemical-Related Plants
  • H-1 Mitsubishi Materials Electronic Chemicals Co., Ltd. Head Office
Aluminum Can Manufacturing Plants
  • I-1 Universal Can Corp. Okayama Plant
  • I-2 Universal Can Corp. Gunma Plant
  • Four other plants
Comprehensive Aluminum Can Rolling Plants
  • J-1 Mitsubishi Aluminum Co., Ltd. Fuji Plant
Home Appliance Recycling Plants
  • K-1 Chubu Eco Technology Co., Ltd.
  • K-2 East Japan Recycling Systems Corp.
  • K-3 Hokkaido Eco Recycle Systems Co., Ltd.
  • K-4 Panasonic Eco Technology Kanto Co., Ltd.
  • K-5 Kansai Recycling Systems Co., Ltd.

Cooperative Framework within the Mitsubishi Materials Group

Cooperative Framework within the Mitsubishi Materials Group