TOKYO -- Sumitomo Metal Mining will build a new plant for producing a major material for lithium-ion batteries in a disaster-hit town in Fukushima Prefecture.
The company and the prefecture's town of Naraha plan to set up a new plant in an industrial park there. The move aims to help reconstruction efforts through job creation and other means.
Sumitomo Metal expects to spend 3 billion to 4 billion yen ($26 million to $35 million) constructing the new plant. Government and municipality subsidies will likely reduce the burden on Sumitomo Metal Mining.
Most of Naraha is preparing for an evacuation advisory, put in place after the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to be lifted.
At the new plant, Sumitomo Metal plans to produce an intermediate material of lithium nickelate used in the positive electrode, one of the main parts of lithium-ion batteries. The company will turn the intermediate materials into positive electrodes at its plant in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, and is expected to deliver them to Panasonic.
Panasonic will supply lithium-ion batteries mainly to U.S.-based Tesla Motors for their electric vehicles.