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Photographer: Marcelo Coelho
Photographer: Marcelo Coelho

Vale in Japan 

Vale's partnership with Japan has been extensive, as the country has always been one of the main export destinations with several long-term contracts signed since the 1950s. In 1984, we opened our first office in the country, but it was in 1967 that we started to operate the Matsusaka refinery. Since then, we have further strengthened the ties between Vale and Japan, investing in sustainable operations and in the quality of the work environment for our employees.

Where are we? 

The Matsusaka refinery is located in the city of the same name, Mie Prefecture, and is a region with exuberant natural features.

Photographer: Marcelo Coelho

Photographer:: Ricardo Teles

What do we do?  

In Matsusaka, we work with the refining, manufacturing, storage, import, export, sale and purchase of nickel and nickel products; import, export, sale and purchase of cobalt and cobalt products; production, sale and purchase of sulfuric acid and other inorganic industrial chemicals, in addition to other activities that are complementary to the business.  

With a production capacity of 66,000 tonnes, it is the largest refinery in the country. After expansions in 1997 and 2014, it became one of the largest producers of nickel oxide sinter (NOS) in Asia, supplying NOS not only to customers in Japan, but also to Vale's affiliated refinery in the UK and to customers worldwide.

Surprising uses for Nickel, NOS, Tonimet® briquettes and Sulphuric acid 

Nickel is used everywhere in your daily life. Most commonly, it is used as a subsidiary raw material for stainless or special steel, which is in turn is used for everything from skyscrapers, power stations and pipelines to medical equipment, kitchen utensils and coins.  

Nickel is also used for cathodes found in lithium-ion batteries and IT equipment like your cell phone and laptop. Now, with the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market and digitalization, global demand for nickel is continuing to increase.  
Indeed, every day and in every way nickel supports civilized society, and Matsusaka Refinery is proud to play a role as a major domestic supplier of Nickel Oxide Sinter (NOS) and Tonimet® briquettes. NOS is the intermediate product for nickel powder and pellets, which then become the raw materials for cathodes found in lithium-ion batteries and electric substrates. Tonimet® briquettes are used as a subsidiary raw material for stainless and special steel. A by-product of NOS at Matsusaka refinery is Sulphuric acid, which is widely used in papermaking, electronics, batteries, wastewater treatment, metal refining and much more.

In addition to operations 

Responsibility towards the environment is, without a doubt, the key point of Vale's operations in Matsusaka. 

At all stages, sustainability is taken into account to ensure that the nature surrounding the operation is preserved. As a result, several carp and other fish can be seen in the waterways near the refinery.

Photographer: Hironori Shigeyama

Check some relevant information about our operations in Japan below:

ISO Hoshin - English and Japonese 
Photographer: Ryuji Ikuta