Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Japan’s biggest refined zinc producer, is planning to shut its Hikoshima smelter in western Japan for about 20 days of maintenance starting from late October, a company executive said.
The smelter in Yamaguchi prefecture, which has annual capacity of 74,000 metric tons of special high-grade zinc, will resume operations in mid-November, Nobuyuki Nakamoto, general manager of the zinc business, said today. The Tokyo-based company also shut its 67,000-ton Kamioka smelter in Gifu prefecture in western Japan in late August for about a month of maintenance, he said. Kamioka produces the same grade.
Special high-grade zinc with a minimum purity of 99.995 percent is used to galvanize steel products in vehicles. Zinc prices in London have gained 11 percent in the past year as the global economy recovered from its worst postwar recession, boosting vehicle production.
“Both maintenance shutdowns at Kamioka and Hikoshima are scheduled ones and there will be no impact on our production,” Nakamoto said.
Auto sales in China, the world’s biggest market, may climb to 16 million this year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Aug. 10, boosting its prediction from a previous estimate of 15 million. The State Information Center said in April auto sales may jump 17 percent to 16 million from a record 13.6 million in 2009.
Mitsui Mining plans to produce 113,200 tons of zinc for the six-month period to the end of September, down 0.9 percent from 114,200 tons in the same period a year earlier.
The company’s Hachinohe plant in Aomori prefecture, northern Japan, has an annual capacity of 112,000 tons of prime western-grade zinc, which has a minimum purity of 98.5 percent and is used mainly for the construction sector.