Nittetsu Mining to Expand Copper and Limestone Mining

Nittetsu Mining aims to enhance its mineral resource business at Atacama mine in Chile which is the only copper mine in which Japanese smelter holds majority share and at domestic 5 limestone mines including Torigata deposit in Kochi Prefecture, Japan. Rokuro Matsumoto, new president of Nittetsu Mining, showed the visions for mineral resource development and company management to Japan Metal Bulletin.Mr. Matsumoto explained that the limestone business maintains favorable thanks to the active demand from steel making industries and that the price hike was accepted by Japanese steel makers for 4 years in a row under the condition. Limestone demand also keeps steady for cement, he said, especially for private sectors while public works have decreased in Japan. However, the price hike is not sufficient for Nittetsu Mining in cement fields according to Mr. Matsumoto.Mr. Matsumoto told Atacama copper mine in Chile is under smooth operation after finishing the renewal of main mining facilities. However, he said, Nittetsu Mining intends to mine low grade ores ahead of high grade ores as long as copper metal price stays high. The firm aims to preserve high grade ores until the development of a next copper mine. He explained Nittetsu Mining planed to decrease the copper output at Atacama mine to 95% of originally planned in fiscal 2007 ending March 2008.In fiscal 2007 Nittetsu Mining plans to increase its limestone sales by 200,000 tonnes to 21.1 million tonnes compared with fiscal 2006, explained Mr. Matsumoto. He said the copper metal production would also increase thanks to output capacity expansion at Hibi Kyodo Smelting, a joint venture among Japanese copper smelters.