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Mitsui Mining & Smelting Says Profit to Decline 17% After Quake

Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Japan’s largest zinc producer, said profit may drop 17 percent this fiscal year after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged facilities, disrupted supplies and cut power.

Net income may fall to 17.5 billion yen ($217 million) in the year started April 1 and sales may increase 4.6 percent to 467 billion yen, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. Profit in the year ended March 31 rose 52 percent to 21.2 billion with sales gaining 13.8 percent to 446 billion, it said.

The company attributed the last fiscal year’s profit increase to a rise in demand for auto parts and electronics as well as price gains in zinc and lead. Zinc for immediate delivery rose to an average of $2,187 a metric ton in the period from the previous year’s average of $1,934, while lead gained to $2,210 a ton from $1,985, according to the company’s data.

Mitsui Mining posted a total of 3.2 billion yen in special losses last year because of the natural disaster, it said. The company said April 11 it planned to restart its Hachinohe smelter in Aomori prefecture, northern Japan, in early June. The plant has a capacity of 112,000 tons of zinc a year, the company has said.

The company has been running its other two smelters -- Kamioka in Gifu prefecture and Hikoshima in Yamaguchi prefecture, west of Tokyo -- at full capacity. Kamioka has annual capacity of 67,000 tons a year and Hikoshima produces 74,000 tons of special high-grade zinc.

Mitsui Mining, also maker of an estimated 90 percent of the world’s copper foil used in smartphones, plans to move some production of copper foil overseas because of the uncertainty over power supplies, said Keiji Nishida, general manager of the company’s finance team. It produces 4,250 tons of copper foil a month, according to spokesman Takayasu Ogisu.

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