Mitsui & Co. (Australia) Ltd.
Mineral & Metal Resources
A partner of choice
A partner of choice
The difference a committed partner can make
In Japan iron ore is described as the “rice of the industry” – it is the staple ingredient in steel making. Steel forms the foundation for life as we know it. It is used extensively in the construction of our homes and buildings, transport, industrial equipment and even our smart phones.
At Mitsui we have been investing in Australia’s iron ore industry for over half a century and, in that time, we have witnessed the industry adapt and evolve to meet changing global demand. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the value of a committed partner.
Iron ore in Western Australia: a long-term play s
Australia is the largest investment destination for Mitsui globally.
Our long-term commitment to Australia is highlighted by our iron ore investments in Western Australia. Mitsui has been involved in Australia's iron ore industry since the 1960s. We were among the first Japanese companies to establish operations in the Pilbara region. It is this long-term approach that underscores the philosophy of Mitsui in all we do.
Today our group company Mitsui Iron Ore Development (MIOD) has a 33% stake in the Robe River joint venture, operated by Rio Tinto. Through the Mitsui Iron Ore Corporation (MIOC), Mitsui-Itochu and Mitsui & Co. Iron Ore Exploration & Mining we have a 7% stake in four BHP operated iron ore projects including Mount Newman, Mount Goldsworthy, Yandi and Jimblebar.
In our continuing efforts to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers, in June 2018 MIOC committed to develop the South Flank iron ore mine, through the Mt. Goldsworthy Joint Venture, with our partners BHP and Itochu. MIOC’s share of investment is approximately US$240 million.
The mine is expected to commence operations in 2021, and produce ore for more than 25 years. South Flank has low operating costs and substantial high-grade reserves, ensuring a stable long-term supply of iron ore for our customers.
In October 2018, MIOD committed to develop new deposits in Robe Valley and West Angelas mines with our partners Rio Tinto, Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal to sustain the production of high-grade iron ore products. Subject to government and environmental approvals construction of both projects is expected to start this year, with first ore due in 2021. MIOD’s share of investment is approximately US$510 million.
Through commissioning these new mines and working with our partners to implement innovative mining technologies that deliver improved productivity, sustainability and safety it ensures that Mitsui is well positioned to meet the needs of our customers.
Investing in metals recyclingMitsui also has a 20 per cent equity stake – through its shareholding in BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC) – in the Poitrel and South Walker Creek mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin. These mines produce pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal and coking coal.
Expanding our investments in the metals industry
Mitsui is pursuing investment and marketing opportunities in several non-ferrous metals including copper, bauxite, nickel, manganese, alumina, and rare metals. This will lead to us supporting our strategic partners and valued customers in the procurement of raw materials.
Communication is key
China is the world’s largest manufacturer of steel and importer of iron ore. In 2017, Australia exported 827 million tonnes of iron ore, with 696 million tonnes (more than 84%) going to China. While China‘s demand for high-quality iron ore remains strong , the mining industry is closely watching for any slowing of steel production. Coupled with the variety of Australia’s ore deposits, strong relationships between suppliers and customers is essential more than ever.
As iron ore is a natural resource there is little that can be done to change its quality. What can be controlled is the conversation between customers and suppliers to find a solution. Communication is central to Mitsui’s role as a joint venture partner, underpinning the value we play in securing the right opportunities for all parties.
Mitsui’s core strategy is to bring our expertise in diversified industries to generate synergies and greater opportunities for our partners and customers.
We see this when we look to our customers. It is crucial that the supplier understands the needs of their customers to deliver the right ore grade for their requirements.
“The mining sequence is very important. We have a number of deposits at any one time – whether it is deposit A, B, C, D, or E, the grade will vary between each and it is critical that we have input from the customer at the beginning to understand which quality will suit best”
“For some customers deposit A might be best, while for others it might be deposit C. That communication is vital to our strategy with our joint partners and understanding exactly what deposits should be mined next,” Yamamoto added.
Understanding the needs of the individual
Markets and economies change over time but one thing remains constant: the importance of understanding the needs of the individual. Each partner, customer and supplier is different.
Mitsui’s unique position as a global, connected company enables us to bring our insights, knowledge and ideas to partners and customers alike. Now and well into the future Mitsui will continue to contribute to the long-term stable supply of iron ore worldwide.