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A shift towards export controls of used lead battery in Competit

2016.06.06 08:52

 Japanese government has released the draft of the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016 at the Competitiveness Commission. In order to develop and secure the resources both in Japan and overseas, the government aims at ensuring the stable supply of energy and mineral resources by aggressively implementing assistance measures for risk money through JOGMEC and others. 

 

 As to the secondary resources such as used lead batteries, electronics scraps, etc., the draft clearly states the government aims at taking advantage of the Japanese advanced environmental technology to promote the domestic recycling system.

 According to a source from an association, export controls of used lead batteries are currently being discussed and the concerned association has been cooperating in the investigations.  

 

Decreasing operating rate in domestic smelters might cause the discussion on controls

 The source said that idle capacities have increased in domestic lead smelters due to falling operating rate.

 According to the data from Japan Mining Industry Association, the total lead smelting capacity of all the member companies is 265,860t/y. Meanwhile, the total production in 2015 was 196,536t, which means that the idle capacity amounted to 69,324t/y.

 

For example, crude lead production by smelter is as follows;

 Hachinohe = 42,888t            (smelting capacity = 45,600t)

 Kosaka = 14,544t                (smelting capacity = 30,000t)

 Hosokura = 24,036t            (smelting capacity = 36,000t)

 Kamioka = 33,540t             (smelting capacity = 36,000t)

 Harima = 6,504t                 (smelting capacity = 30,000t, but shut down in September, 2015)

 Takehara = 11,316t             (smelting capacity = 21,600t)

 Chigirishima = 70,212t        (smelting capacity = 96,660t)

 

 Among the abovementioned smelters, Hosokura, Kamioka, Takehara and Chigirishima consume the used lead batteries as raw materials. The volumes of smelting used lead batteries are as flows;

Hosokura = 21,250t

 (The contained lead volume would be the half of the total battery weight; 42,500t).

 Kamioka = 22,510t             (Same as above; 45,020t)

 Takehara = 714t                 (Same as above; 1,429t)

 Chigirishima = 15,000t        (Same as above; 30,000t)

 

 As the above data shows, Hosokura consumed 21,250t of used lead batteries, which is almost close to the total smelting volume of 24,036t.

 Secondary smelters which mainly use lead batteries as raw materials have also experienced the decreasing operating rate, in some cases, more than the abovementioned major non-ferrous smelters.

 

 Also, 10,851t of used lead batteries was exported to Korea in March of this year.

 It shows that almost a quarter of the Hosokura’s annual consumption of used lead batteries flew to Korea for a month.

 

[Japan’s monthly used lead battery export in 2010-2016] Unit: tons

surface

 (Trade Statistics of Japan released by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

 

 At the 5th meeting for the proper transboundary movements of wastes, which was held this year and concluded, Mr. Shimizu from Japan Mining Industry Association mentioned the idea about circulating used lead battery in domestic markets without exporting. Underlying his words, there seems to be current falling operation rate in domestic smelters.

 

After tightening of regulations, lead price might drop again

 If the government really took the action, concern would be greatest for drops in the lead price.

 Not a few people including smelters point out that used lead batteries, which are fortunately traded at a reasonable price now, had been piled at gas stations and often dumped illegally when the lead price dropped in the late 1990s.

 

 The source said that “When the draft was released this time, such opinions were given. But, the government made the draft like this on the basis of the facts that a flurry of illegal dump had been seen in the previous price drop. So, I heard that the government has already considered how to cope with such situation.”Although concrete plans have not yet been suggested, the government seems to be considering countermeasures.

 The source also said that “The symposium on used lead battery was scheduled to be held in May, but postponed. It is said to be held in July. Attentions should be paid to what to be discussed there.”

 

(Edited by Sasaki)

 

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