An Energy-Saving Refinery
The Vale Japan Ltd Refinery at Matsusaka has been supplying nickel to Japanese consumers since 1967. After a production capacity increase 1997, the refinery became the Asian production location for Vale, and the largest nickel production company in the West. As well as supplying nickel to consumers in Japan, it also supplies the Vale locations in Taiwan and South Korea.
With an annual nickel production of 60,000 tons, the refinery has the largest capacity in Japan. The refinery employs production methods that use very little energy. Many improvements have been made and automation has been introduced that has raised efficiency and made it possible to operate and administer the plant with only a few personnel. As a result, the refinery has the lowest production costs of any refinery in the Vale Group and is in the top class worldwide. It is the only refinery in the country that produces nickel using a fluidized roasting furnace. The Tonimet produced using fluidizing reduction, that was developed in-house, is an easy-to-use nickel source and is widely utilized throughout Japan.
The sulfuric acid produced in the processing of Indonesian oxide ore is of high quality and has become a hallmark of the refinery. By the refinement of techniques and the development and selection of equipment and materials over the years, it has become possible to produce sulfuric acid that is extremely clear and low in impurities. It can be used for applications that emphasize quality, such as in automobile batteries.