Mitsubishi Materials Seeks Copper Contract From Oyu Tolgoi Mine

Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Japan’s third-biggest copper producer, said it’s seeking a long-term contract to source the metal from Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi mine.

The company and Japanese trade house Mitsui & Co. have signed a contract with Oyu Tolgoi LLC to import 5,000 metric tons of copper concentrate from Mongolia on a trial basis, Tatsuya Inoue, general manager of Mitsubishi’s raw materials division, said today in an interview at its Tokyo headquarters.

The move is part of Mitsubishi’s effort to diversify where it gets its raw materials. The company imports about 1 million tons of copper concentrate a year, of which about 70 percent comes from South America, according to Inoue.

Oyu Tolgoi, one of the world’s biggest deposits of copper, has seen its expansion delayed due to conflict between its shareholders Rio Tinto Group and the Mongolian government. The mine is expected to produce as much as 195,000 tons of copper concentrate in 2015.

Mitsui arranged the shipping of the concentrate, carried by rail to the Russian port of Vladivostok and then by sea to Mitsubishi Materials’ Naoshima plant in Kagawa prefecture on Japan’s southern Shikoku island, Inoue said.

At about 30 days, the shipping time is similar to imports from Chile, he said.

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