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Magnesium News 2016, Sept-Oct
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September/October 2016

Japan - Magnesium Newsletter (June)

The Japan Magnesium Association

Mercedes-Benz Japan announced brand-new open model.

(Source: “Mynavi News”/Jiji Press, 2 June, 2016)
On June 2, Mercedes-Benz Japan (Tokyo) announced 3 brand-new models ; “S-Class Cabriolet”, “SL”, “SLC.”  After 44 years the open model is added to highest grade sedan lineup. S-Class Cabriolet adopted Aluminum hybrid body shell using plentiful aluminum and magnesium in body, which realized high stiffness and weight reduction on a par with “S-Class coupe.” It takes approximately 20 seconds for Electric sunroof to open or close even while driving 50 km/h or less. New “SL” front end was redesigned. Shape widening toward the windshield provides distinctive front design among all existing Mercedes-Benz lineup. Strictly selected high quality material was used at every point in interior and light weight magnesium was adopted in multi-function-steering which achieved maneuverability improvement.

Brand-new “SLC” lineup has 4 models as follows; “SLC 180” and “SLC 180 Sports” with 1.6 liter inline-four cylinder engine with direct injection turbo, “SLC 200 Sports” with 2.0 liter inline-four cylinder engine with direct injection turbo, “Mercedes AMG SLC 43” with 3.0 liter V6 twin-turbo. Vario-roof which uses magnesium alloy for roof frame, enabled drastic weight reduction lowering center of gravity.  Opening or closing operation takes approximately 20 seconds, controlled by center-console switch. Operation is possible until speed reaches 40 km/h so long as operation started while car was stopped. Opening and closing operations are able to be completed while stopped at an intersection.

Retail price of “S-Class Cabriolet,” “SL” and “SLC” are 21,450,000 yen, 12,650,000 yen and 5,300,000 yen respectively.

Dell Inc. released 3 new models of tough notebook. All work properly under severe conditions.

(Source: “Mynavi News,” 21 June, 2016)
Dell Inc. released business-class PC “Latitude Rugged” series citing high rigidity and durability, on June 21.  11.6” convertible type and 14” notebook PC (2 models) are available.  Net price is 165,980 yen or more. “Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme” is 14” clamshell notebook with toughest performance among all models released this time. Net price is 278,980 yen. Housing is made with magnesium alloy and ultra-polymer materials, meeting US military-standard (MIL-STD). All entry points are sealed by compression gaskets and a dual‐knife‐edge design that’s certified for IP65 protection from sand, dust and liquid.

Fujifilm released dust & drip-proof mirrorless “X-T2,” the next version of X-T1, introduced 2 years ago.

(Source: “Mynavi News,” 7 July, 2016)
On July 7 Fujifilm released “FUJIFILM X-T2” as newest product of Lens-interchangeable Mirrorless Digital Camera ”X-series.” Only body and lens kit with “XF18-55mm F2.8-4 RLM OIS” are available. Scheduled to go on sale in September, open pricing. Design is based on Center finder style “FUJIFILM X-T1,” with magnesium alloy housing with weather resistant structure which is dust-proof, drip-proof, and temperature tolerant down to -10ºC.

Japan Steel Works, Ltd reports bright prospects for magnesium parts and machinery demand.

(Source: “Sokeizai-tsushin,” 1 July, 2016)
Kazuo Kitamura, Senior Managing Executive Officer of Japan Steel Works, Ltd.(JSW) provided an update regarding Thixomolding machinery and subsidiary molding company, MG Precision (MGP). JSW Group sales volume of Magnesium biz is currently 2.5~3.0 billion yen per year. Domestic automotive parts makers evolved from MGP, which encouraged other domestic Thixomolders to add more machines. Furthermore a leading US automotive parts maker decided to install new model Thixomolding machines at their Europe facility. 850 ton clamping force machine was recently added to existing 3 lineup of 280 ton, 450 ton and 650 ton. Three orders for 850 ton machines were received and scheduled for delivery to MGP, a Thixomolder – site in Kanto-area Japan and to US company in an European facility.  What makes this movement accelerate? 1) Significant Weight saving requirement on Automotive, 2) Solution for recycling issue, and 3) Improved factory work environment. These things clearly resulted in acceleration to adopt Thixomolding process.

METI integrated Iron-Steel Div. and Nonferrous Metal Div. into “Metal Industries Division”

(Source: “Sokeizai-tsushin,” 1 July, 2016)
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) integrated both Iron-Steel Div. and Nonferrous Metal Div. of Manufacturing Industries Bureau, into “Metal Industries Division” as part of internal organizational reform. For a long time after world war II, each industry was governed by material, separated into iron-steel and nonferrous such as Magnesium, Aluminum and Titanium. However cross-sectional, sustainable and flexible activity were currently required, so the organization had to be adjusted to actual circumstances. This avoids inherent material conflicts in areas such as automotive, train and aircraft industries. It also facilitates higher value-added next-generation-material-development and synergistic efforts, i.e. material-mix.    

Takanari Yamashita, Kozo Sakamoto, and Toshihiro Eto were announced as first Director of Metal Industries Div., Director of Metal Industry Technology Office, and Director for International Affairs respectively.

Domestic Magnesium Market - May, 2016

(Source: May issue of Import/Export Statistics (customs clearance basis) of METI. Compiled by The Japan Magnesium Association.)

Based on Import/Export Statistics of May 2016, magnesium metal import was 1,980.3 tons (23.2% decrease from the same month the year before), magnesium powder 170.1 tons (44.9% decrease), and other products 294.1 tons (98.0% increase). Thus metal and powder dropped off significantly but other products increased, resulting in grand total of 2,444.6 tons (20.0% decrease).

The metal category consisted of 4 products as follows:

  1. 1,620.1 tons of pure magnesium (24.1% decrease), which dropped down due to backlash from significant price increase last month. Import from Turkey grew to 26.0 tons 5 times more than April.
  2. 356.6 tons of die-casting alloys (21.9% decrease) remained low with 19.7 tons from Israel after an absence of 4 months.
  3. high purity magnesium continued 0 tons for consecutive 3 months.
  4. 3.6 tons of casting alloy (57.1% decrease) including 2.2 tons from Taiwan likely to be Mg-Li alloy.

The average import price of magnesium metal has remained low since the beginning of 2016. However, the average price of pure magnesium in May slightly increased to 216.2 yen per kg, an increase of 4.5 yen per kg or 2.1% on month-to-month basis.  Such a low level was considered due to China overproduction. The import price from Turkey was 228.1 yen per kg, 12.1 yen higher than Chinese.

The price of magnesium alloys increased to 279.6 yen per kg , up 14.0 yen per kg or 5.3% on month-to-month basis. Higher valued heat-resistant alloy from Israel contributed again after January.

As for the total amount of import from January to May 2016, magnesium metal was 10,302.9 tons (19.7% decrease from the same period the year before), magnesium powder was 1,623.5 tons (14.5% decrease) and other products were 1,035.0 tons (36.3% increase). As a result, the grand total amount of import from January to May was 12,961.4 tons, 16.3% decrease comparing to same period previous year.

In May 2016, export of magnesium consisted of 3.1 tons of pure magnesium to Thailand and 33.5 tons of magnesium alloys (71.8% increase from the same period the year before) to Taiwan. Magnesium alloys exported to USA were 0 tons for 3 consecutive months as were Powder and granules. Other products were 3.5 tons (141.0% increase), in which the export to China recovered greatly up to 3.3 tons.

As for the total amount of export from January to May 2016, pure magnesium metal was 3.1 tons (308.0% increase), magnesium alloy metal was 177.6 tons (58.2% decrease), magnesium powder was 1.2 tons (48.9% decrease) and other products were 7.8 tons (56.6% decrease). So all category fell down except pure magnesium metal.


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