Guillermo González Benassini
Vice President
MMC Metal de Mexico
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View from the Top

Japanese Technology Behind Steel for Mexican Industries

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 15:51

Q: As an international company, what were the main factors that drove MMC Metal, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, to invest in Mexico?

A: The strength of domestic economic indicators was one of the main factors for investing in Mexico. International markets still see this country as a very attractive place for investment. The discipline in the currency policy and fiscal deficit control implemented here over 12 years ago has won confidence for continued investment; there is also a real interest in Mexican bonds and equity instruments. The country also offers a qualified workforce at competitive prices, and it is well located geographically, as well as having free trade agreements with the US, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Japan, among many others. Today, what makes Mexico even more attractive is the potential signing of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement.

Q: What is the importance of smelting within Mexico’s mining activities, and how well does Mexico perform in its processing of metals?

A: The smelting industry plays a dominant role in the mining industry. Even though it is sometimes considered as such, steel is not chemically speaking a metal but an alloy between a metal (iron) and a metalloid (carbon), which maintains the metallic characteristics of the former and includes remarkably improved properties as a result of the latter, as well as other metallic and non-metallic elements. As a matter of fact the term ‘steel’ applies to a very large set of metal alloys, depending on the addition of other elements such as nitrogen, hydrogen, boron, oxygen, chromium, nickel, titanium, manganese, vanadium and copper, among others, which develop different levels of resistance and malleability, depending on their many different uses and applications. The smelting industry therefore uses different materials from the mining industry to transform the steel and supply other sectors, such as construction and mining, with finished products like rod, wire and steel in different formats.

Q: What are your priority industries in Mexico?

A: Mitsubishi Materials Corporation is a world leader in manufacturing products that prevent wear and tear, mostly using tungsten carbide. The most important industries for MMC Metal in the Mexican market are therefore the automotive sector, followed by the mining, aerospace and steel industries. In the aerospace and automotive industries the most in-demand MMC Metal products tend to be cutting tools for metal, in the form of interchangeable tungsten carbide inserts, and cutters and diamond CBN tools, among others. For the mining industry we make steel drilling parts such as rotary heads made of carbide, as well as couplings, stilts and rods, which are also used in drilling. Finally, for the steel industry, the most popular products are solid carbide rolls for lamination and composite rolls for finish.

Q: What is the added value that your mining products offer in the Mexican market?

A: Our value lies in the state of the art technology that we provide at a lower cost. Our price is lower than or equal to the price you get in the US. We have a good inventory, specialized technical assistance and support from Japan to teach drilling techniques and optimize resources, in order to reduce costs considerably. Mitsubishi Materials Corporation has developed drilling steel for the mining industry for over 60 years in Japan. The products it manufactures are highly resistant to wear and tear, thanks to the carbide inserts manufactured at our plant. Each product is also marked, so that we have a record of, and control over, its manufacturing process. Adding MMC Metal products to new drilling machines results in labor force savings, as well as greater efficiency and safety for our clients’ employees.

Q: What are MMC Metal’s ambitions and goals in the Mexican mining industry for the coming years?

A: The mining industry plays an essential role in the company’s future plans. We are planning to increase our market participation and sales by more than 200% in the next five years. Hiroshi Yao, the President of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, said in this year’s annual message that a careful plan should be implemented to balance growth and financial performance, and that growth outside of Japan should be increased, especially in emerging markets. That is good news for the Mexican market.