Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. Releases 2019 Production Guidance

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Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd., the second-largest producer of copper in Japan unveiled its fiscal year 2019 production guidance on Monday (for the year beginning this month).

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The company guidance calls for production of 420,000 tons of electrolytic copper. That total marks a 0.8% decline, or 3,200 tons, from FY 2018’s copper output.

Sumitomo notes maintenance work is scheduled for 35 days in FY 2019, which will impact copper production. The maintenance work will take place at the Toyo Smelter & Refinery in late October.

Electrolytic nickel production is expected to hit 62,600 tons, down 3.5%, or 2,300 tons, from FY 2018 production.

Ferronickel production, meanwhile, is expected to reach 13,330 tons, up 900 tons from FY 2018.

“In FY2019, we will continue to operate with two kilns and one electric furnace, the optimum production setup in terms of the current raw materials procurement environment,” Sumitomo said in its guidance statement.

Like copper, the company’s ferronickel segment also has planned maintenance work this fiscal year. At its Hyuga Smelting Co., Ltd., there will be maintenance work carried out on one line for 24 days in September and for nine days in February. Work on the other line at the smelter is scheduled to take place for nine days in September and for 27 days over February and March, according to the company release.

Gold production is expected to reach 16,200 tons. Silver production guidance for FY 2019 is 217,200 tons.

In other company news, Sumitomo recently announced it had discovered a new process to “recover and recycle cobalt in addition to copper and nickel from used lithium ion secondary batteries and intermediates generated in their production.”

“The process that SMM has developed selectively recovers nickel, cobalt and copper as an alloy by using a pyrometallurgical refining process independent of the existing process to separate majority of impurities from lithium ion secondary batteries,” a Sumitomo released explained. “Then the alloy is leached and refined by a hydrometallurgical process to recycle the nickel and cobalt for use as a battery material and the copper for electrolytic copper.”

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According to the release, the company established a pilot plant for this new recycling process in the city of Niihama, where the company will assess feasibility of the process and scaling up to “production level.”

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