The Nikkei reports that Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co. (Mitsui Kinzoku), plans to enter the lithium-ion battery manganese cathode materials market, with a projected investment of up to ¥10 billion (US$113 million by 2013).
Mitsui Kinzoku is currently delivering cathode prototypes to battery manufacturers that supply automakers. A battery firm is running a test vehicle to evaluate the product, and is in the final stages, according to Mitsui Kinzoku. A decision to adopt the product is expected to be made as early as next summer.
Mitsui Kinzoku plans to first spend several hundred million yen in January to install equipment for producing 80 tons of cathodes a month at its plant in Hiroshima Prefecture. It intends to gradually boost its production capacity based on demand, aiming for the capability to manufacture 1,000 tons a month by 2013.
In 2008, Mitsui Kinzoku announced that it had developed a new silicon-based anode material—SILX—which enables higher capacity and power in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The company plans to begin commercialization of SILX in 2010 through partnerships with battery manufacturers and OEMs. (Earlier post.)