TOKYO(Reuters) – The mining and smelting unit of giant Japanese energy-to-metals company JXTG Holdings plans to drill down into the world of consumer electronics and high-tech batteries to beef up profits while pausing on traditional, high-investment base metals projects that drain resources.
JX Nippon Mining & Metals’ new president, Seiichi Murayama, said his firm is interested in buying stakes in smaller mines of rare metals such as tantalum and niobium, key examples of the kind of materials needed to make the advanced semiconductors and batteries used in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles.
Murayama aims to make what he calls “electronic materials” the most profitable business at JX after cost overruns at its key Caserones copper mine project in Chile and weaker copper prices that have weakened the firm’s financial health.
“Electronic materials will be our core growth driver through 2040,” Murayama told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. “We want to supply most-advanced materials to help improve functions of various digital and electronic products.”
JX currently generates more than half of operating profit from upstream mining and mid-stream smelting business. But Murayama hopes that the downstream materials segment, including products using rare metals, will overtake the others.
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