Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) has announced plans to invest JPY47bn ($424m) to expand cathode materials production capacity in Japan.

As part of the investment, the company will set up a plant for nickel-based cathode materials in the Besshi area Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture.

The plant, which will be located adjacent to the firm’s existing cathode material plant, the Isoura Plant, will be built with an investment of JPY40bn ($361.2m).

Sumitomo stated: “Production of secondary batteries for xEV has been expanding more and more as of late due to the rapid acceleration of the electrification of vehicles that is occurring in line with the decarbonisation that is pursued all over the world.

“SMM is now producing the nickel-based cathode materials for secondary batteries for xEV and there are signs of greatly expanded demand for our products.

“Additionally, high-nickel cathode materials, which allow us to make the most of our technical expertise, are gradually penetrating the secondary batteries market.”

Sumitomo plans to make the remaining investment to increase production capacity at the Harima Refinery located in Harima-cho, Kako-gun, Hyogo Prefecture.

Construction work on the two facilities is expected to be completed in 2025.

Sumitomo targets to expand its cathode materials production capacity to 10,000t per month by 2027.

In January, the company confirmed significant gold mineralisation at the Cote gold project in Ontario, Canada.

The mineralisation was confirmed through an exploration programme in the Gosselin and Young-Shannon zone, located approximately 1.5km northeast of the gold project.

In May, Sumitomo announced an investment of $395m in Cote gold project in the financial year 2021.