5minutes Digest of MMC

For many people, the word “material” conjures up an image of raw materials or ingredients. Mitsubishi Materials is an “integrated materials manufacturer.” We meet society's needs by providing such basic materials as copper and cement. We also manufacture and sell mechanical parts, electronic materials and components used in automobiles and home appliances, as well as the tools used to make them. We are also involved in recycling.
We would like to introduce Mitsubishi Materials' broad-ranging business developments in a section entitled “Mitsubishi Materials' DNA.” In another section, entitled “Here's What's Impressive about Materials,” we show how the Mitsubishi Materials Group's products and technologies are being used in the world, some of which are unknown but are the best in Japan or the world.

Mitsubishi Materials' DNA


Founder Yataro Iwasaki Founder Yataro Iwasaki
(photo by Mitsubishi Economic Research Institute)

Mitsubishi Materials traces its roots back to Tsukumo Shokai, a coal and metal mining business Mitsubishi founder Yataro Iwasaki established in 1871, following the Meiji Restoration. Our materials business thus has its roots in the resource business and mining.

Takashima Coal Mine(early Meiji) (Hokkeiseikou) Takashima Coal Mine(early Meiji) (Hokkeiseikou)
Yoshioka Mine (1902) Yoshioka Mine (1902)


Established Mitsubishi Goshi Kaisha

Osarizawa Mine (Around 1890) Osarizawa Mine
(Around 1890)
Sado Gold Mine (Around 1920) Sado Gold Mine
(Around 1920)
4th President Koyata Iwasaki 4th President Koyata Iwasaki
(photo by Mitsubishi Economic Research Institute)


Naoshima Smelter & Refinery Naoshima Smelter & Refinery (At its start)

As the Meiji Era gave way to the Taisho and the Showa eras, copper and other metals became necessary as Japan modernized. To meet these needs, we operated metal mines across Japan. In 1917, we established a smelter at Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture, employing a reverberatory furnace - cutting-edge at the time - to make use of low-grade ore produced at copper mines in various regions and from the standpoint of controlling emissions. We progressed from using small-scale smelters near copper mines to operating one of Japan's best and largest waterfront smelters, which is still in operation today.

In addition to copper, Mitsubishi Materials' metals business involves gold, silver, platinum, lead, palladium and other non-ferrous metals and their alloys. We also manufacture electrical wiring, copper tubing and other copper alloy products. Furthermore, in recent years we have begun proactively applying smelting processes to the recycling of E-Scrap.

Metals Business


In 1918, Mitsubishi Mining Company Ltd. was established when Mitsubishi Goshi Kaisha split out its coal and metal mining operations, as well as operation of its research facility.
Around the same time, other businesses were split off to form independent companies, including the Mitsubishi Bank, Ltd., Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (now Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.).

Ikuno Mine (Taisho era) Ikuno Mine (Taisho era)
Mining research institute (Around 1920) Mining research institute
(Around 1920)


Tokyo Metals Plant (Around 1950) Tokyo Metals Plant
(Around 1950)

Having spun off from Mitsubishi Goshi Kaisha, Mitsubishi Mining contributed substantially to Japan's modernization through its operations in both the coal and metal mining businesses. Also, 1917 marked the establishment of the Mining Research Institute, Japan's first civilian research institute. The institute engaged in a broad range of research related to coal and metals and proactively studied new products and businesses to meet the needs of the times. In 1931, one of the institute's successes led to the production and sale of “Tridia” cemented carbide tools, which were a pioneering product in Japan. The establishment of the Tokyo Metals Plant in 1942 marked the company's full-fledged entry into the cemented carbide tool business.

In the Advanced Materials & Tools business, in addition to cutting tools we manufacture and sell construction tools used in resource development and tunnel construction, as well as wear-resistant tools employed in the electronics sector.
We are also Japan's only company recycling tungsten, a rare metal that is the main component of the carbon alloys used in cutting tools.

Advanced Materials & Tools Business


In 1944, we established the Niigata Metals Plant (now Diamet Corporation) and embarked on the powder metallurgy business.
In the next year, we established the Nonferrous Metals Plant (later the Okegawa Plant, Hitachi Metals MMC Superalloy, Ltd.*) and began manufacturing arms bronze, a specialty copper alloy.
*Transferred equity, 2017

Niigata Metals Plant (Around 1950) Niigata Metals Plant
(Around 1950)
Nonferrous Metals Plant (Around 1950) Nonferrous Metals Plant
(Around 1950)


Kurosaki Plant Kurosaki Plant (1955)

World War Ⅱ ended in 1945, and in accordance with the GHQ's Occupation Policy (Excessive Economic Power Decentralization Law), Mitsubishi Mining was broken up into Mitsubishi Mining Corporation, which took over the company's coal mining operations, and Taihei Mining, which assumed the company's metal mining operations and the Mining Research Institute. Leveraging the technologies and trust they had built up over many years, the two companies engaged in management diversification and business restructuring to contribute to Japan's post-war reconstruction. As one aspect of these activities, to manufacture and sell cement, a fundamental material required for the nation's reconstruction, Mitsubishi Mining expanded its operations by establishing the Kurosaki Plant in 1955 and the Higashitani Plant in 1963.

In the cement business, the company contributed to infrastructure development by configuring a vertically integrated system spanning mines for the excavation of limestone, a key cement material, a cement factory, transport and sales, a ready-mixed concrete factory and a construction company.

Cement Business


Polycrystalline Silicon Polycrystalline Silicon

Taihei Mining (whose name changed to Mitsubishi Metal Mining Company Ltd. in 1952) also responded to rapid changes in the business environment by pursuing business diversification and restructuring. As part of these activities, the Mining Research Institute, inspired by U.S. Bell Laboratories' 1948 invention of the transistor, applied its smelting and refining technologies toward the recovery of high-purity germanium. Following this success in 1950, in 1956 the institute embarked on research and development of nuclear fuel. Among its numerous new business developments, in 1959 the institute pioneered Japan's production of high-purity silicon for semiconductors, and commenced manufacturing research involving titanium alloys for aircraft in 1960.

The silicon business currently involves the manufacture of products such as the high-purity polycrystalline silicon used in silicon wafers for semiconductors, as well as silane gas, which are sold in Japan and overseas.

Silicon (Electronic Materials & Components) Business


Mitsubishi Aluminum Fuji Plant Mitsubishi Aluminum Fuji Plant (Around 1962)

Before World War Ⅱ, the company had engaged in aluminum smelting operations overseas, but temporarily withdrew from these activities following the war. In 1962, Mitsubishi Reynolds Aluminum Co., Ltd. (now Mitsubishi Aluminum Co., Ltd.) was established through a technology tie-up with Reynolds International Inc. of the United States, creating an aluminum rolling business. In 1972, the company currently known as Universal Can Corporation began manufacturing and selling aluminum beverage cans. Focusing attention on the major energy savings to be achieved through aluminum recycling, for more than 30 years the company has been involved in the collection and recycling of used aluminum beverage cans.

Leveraging the characteristics of its aluminum business, in addition to aluminum beverage cans the company developed its operations in a wide range of fields, including aluminum foil and other products for everyday use, automotive parts, printing plates and air cylinders. In addition, by constructing an integrated recycling system as a materials group, we are contributing to the realization of a recycling-oriented society.

Aluminum Business
High-Purity Polysilicon Co., Ltd. (now Yokkaichi Plant)(About 1990) Hi-Silicone Co., Ltd.
(now Yokkaichi Plant)
(Around 1990)


Ceramics Plant Ceramics Plant (1983)

Amid rapid growth of the electronics industry entering the 1970s, the company worked on development of ceramic electronic devices by taking advantage of some of the electrical characteristics of certain cement minerals, beginning the manufacture and sale of ring varistors in 1976. From its start as an operation in one corner of a cement plant, this business marked the company's full-fledged emergence into the electronic devices sector with the construction of a new ceramics plant in 1983.

In addition to electronic devices, in the electronic materials business Mitsubishi Metal Corporation (whose name changed from Mitsubishi Metal Mining Company Ltd. in 1973) established the Mita Plant in 1990, transferring from the Osaka Smelter & Refinery its development and manufacturing of functional materials such as target and solder materials. In this business, Mitsubishi Materials Electronic Chemicals Co., Ltd., has also introduced numerous unique products with superior functionality, including hydrofluoric acid and other fine chemicals.

Electronic Materials & Components Business


Chorused Symphoney No.9 Ode to joy at Inauguration Ceremony Chorused Symphoney No.9 “Ode to joy”
at Inauguration Ceremony

In 1990, Mitsubishi Mining & Cement Co., Ltd. (which changed its name from Mitsubishi Mining in 1973 as the result of three-company merger) merged with Mitsubishi Metal Corporation to form the current-day Mitsubishi Materials. This merger marked the culmination of 40 years of turbulence following the 1950 breakup due to the GHQ's Occupation Policy.


Here's What's Impressive about Mitsubishi Materials

5 rotary kilns,
annual cement production capacity of 7.2 million tons

Kyushu Plant Kyushu Plant

Mitsubishi Materials connected the Kyushu Plant, its mainstay cement factory, directly with the Higashitani Limestone Mine via belt conveyor and leveraged the plant's locational advantage to ship cement from the factory pier. In 1982, a system of five rotary kilns was put in place. The Kyushu Plant is now Japan's leading cement factory, with annual production of 7.2 million tons. From this location, we ship cement throughout Japan, as well as exporting it to support infrastructure development in countries throughout the world.

The Mitsubishi Process for continuous copper smelting,
recognized globally for its low pollution levels and high efficiency

Mitsubishi Process “Mitsubishi Process”

Different from conventional batch-type smelting processes employing blast furnaces and converters, the Mitsubishi Process for continuous copper smelting is a proprietary process for continuous copper production that uses a smelting furnace, separating furnace, converting furnace and refining furnace connected by enclosed launders. Greatly reducing SO2 gas leaks, this revolutionary process is recognized for its high operating efficiency. We have exported the technology to Indonesia, South Korea, India and other countries around the world, thereby contributing to rising demand for the use of copper in infrastructure equipment.

Offering an overwhelmingly extensive product lineup
numbering some 30,000 items

Cemented Carbide Products of Mitsubishi Materials

Mitsubishi Materials offers a huge variety of cemented carbide products (such as cutting tools), with some 30,000 items listed in its catalog. We respond proactively to customer needs throughout the global market to offer products for specialty machining, as well as construction tools and wear resistant tools. Thanks to our extensive offerings, we have earned a reputation expressed by the phrase “If Mitsubishi Materials doesn't have it, nobody has it.”

MULαS low alpha-ray solder series
enjoys the #1 share of the global market


Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices continue to grow more functionally advanced all the time. Compact, high-speed IC chips support this progress. To make these chips more compact, in recent years solder has been adopted instead of bonding wire to connect chips to their circuit boards. The MULαS low-alpha-ray solder that Mitsubishi Materials has developed currently holds a leading share of the global market.

Aiming to be a leader in aluminum can recycling volume

Used Beverage Cans Used Beverage Cans

For more than 30 years, the Mitsubishi Materials Group has been collecting used aluminum beverage cans and then melting, casting and rolling them for reuse as aluminum cans in a “can-to-can” recycling process. We are the only group in Japan to handle the integrated recycling of aluminum beverage cans internally, contributing to the development of a recycling-oriented society and helping to conserve aluminum resources. Recycled aluminum ingots made from used aluminum cans require only 3% of the energy required to produce new ingots. As a result, this process substantially reduces energy requirements and contributes toward halting global warming.

Aiming to become the leader in geothermal energy development

Latest Geothermal Development Project Latest Geothermal Development Project

Last year, the Japanese government announced its energy mix targets for 2030, calling for the tripling of geothermal power generation by that time. The government has also substantially deregulated the market and introduced a power purchasing system.
Taking advantage of the underground resource exploration technology it has cultivated since the time of its founding, the Mitsubishi Materials Group currently operates several of Japan's leading geothermal sites. By 2030, we aim to become the leader in terms of electric power development volume.