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.
*Source: Ministry of Finance Trade Statistics
Major Sources of Metal Resource Imports to Japan (2012)
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.