12th Rare Earth Summit

May 27-28, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

11th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 20-21, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

9th Magnesium Summit

April 15-16, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

13th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 25-26, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

7th World Antimony Forum

June 13-14, 2019
Changsha, Hunan, China

7th Refractory & Abrasive Materials Summit 2019

May 23-24, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

10th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 16-17, 2019
Zhengzhou, Henan, China

11th Rare Earth Summit

May 9-10, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

8th Magnesium Summit

April 11-12, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

12th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 14-15, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

6th World Manganese & Selenium Forum

May 21-22, 2018
Hainan Sanya, China
Masanori Nishikawa: Demand for cutting tools in Japan set to rebound
----Interview with Masanori Nishikawa, Deputy Manager of the Business Development Section at Kyocera Corporation
Kyocera Corporation was set up in 1959 by Inamori Kazuo and was formerly a producer of technical ceramics. Nowadays most of the company’s products are related to the electronics field, including mobiles, networks, semiconductor components, Rf and microwave product suites, passive electronic components, crystal oscillators and their connectors and optronics.

Asian Metal: Good afternoon, Mr. Nishikawa. Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Could you please give us some background on your company?

Mr. Nishikawa: Our company Kyocera Corporation was established on 1 April 1959 with capital of JPY115,703 (USD 1,123/EUR 815) million. Our president is Goro Yamaguchi and we have 230 Group companies with 69,789 employees worldwide. We started to produce cemented carbide tools in 1971 and have made great progress in this area. We have three cemented carbide plants in China, which are located in Donguan, Wuxi and Zhuhai respectively.

Asian Metal: How was the Japanese tungsten market in May?

Mr. Nishikawa: As you know, the Japanese depend 100% on importing tungsten related products, such as YTO, BTO, APT and FeW. from outside of Japan. We used to have five beneficiation facilities in Japan but currently only one of the facilities is running. So, the amount of imported tungsten ore and tungsten concentrate has been drastically reduced over the years. Let’s assume the scale of global tungsten consumption is somewhere around 90,000 tonnes, and consumption in Japan is 8,000-9,000 tonnes (9-10%) per year. The biggest demand is from China, which should be around 60%. Average monthly Japanese automotive production is somewhere around 700,000 cars every month, but has been very flat over the past two years, as has demand for machine tools.

Asian Metal: Do you think demand for cemented carbide cutting tools will be better in the near term? Which of the downstream products is looking most promising?

Mr. Nishikawa: I believe demand for cemented carbide cutting tools will come back in the very near future. As you know, the cutting tools markets are driven mainly by automotive companies like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and so forth. The trend for Japanese automotive mfg quantities in the last ten years has been very flat, just as in the EU and USA. But the Chinese automotive market has been growing rapidly, especially since 2009, which was the year of the global economic [crash].

Asian Metal: As the export tax for tungsten in China was cancelled in May, are you planning to make any big purchases at the moment?

Mr. Nishikawa: Most Japanese consumers have been very careful to watch the situation around cancellation of the export tax and export quotas due to the negative WTO rulings. But we are very sure the Chinese government will come up with other government policies to control the export volumes for tungsten in the near future, such as environmental protection taxes and so forth. So at this moment, we are not planning to make big purchases.

Asian Metal: Do you think the tungsten market will rebound in June?

Mr. Nishikawa: I’ve heard as much and believe it should rebound to the level of LMB APT=US$350 or above. If LMB APT is lower than US$350, most of the tungsten mines will not be profitable and they will end up shutting down some operational sites.

Asian Metal: What downstream markets does the company hope to tap into?

Mr. Nishikawa: Most of our products include indexable cutting tool inserts and the like, and we hope to expand our product line-up into applications from energy, infrastructure, aerospace and so forth. We also need to focus on markets in emerging nations, as lots of our competitors are doing.

Asian Metal: Tungsten prices suffered throughout most of 2014. This has made it tough to leverage interest from investors and buyers at times. What are your predictions for 2015? Will we see a turn-around? Have prices bottomed out and, if so, why might this be?

Mr. Nishikawa: My prediction is we will see LMB APT=US$370-400/MTU. I believe the APT hit bottom several months ago, and lots of tungsten mines were jeopardized to maintain profits. The reason the APT price bottomed was that all of the consumers and traders wanted to observe how the market situation developed after China lost out in the WTO ruling. I believe lots of tungsten-related downstream customers kind of expected to see much lower prices, so they could purchase lots of materials for stock, but the whole of the tungsten consumer market was also on a down trend, so they were unable to purchase.