The History of Sumitomo Metal Mining

Learn from History, Live by the Spirit

Sumitomo's involvement with copper mining spans over 420 years.
During that time, the business has faced several major challenges due to changes in external conditions. In each case, management responded to the changes with skill and tenacity to forge a new business with a revised strategy and organization. The enterprise's sustained growth has made a significant and wide-ranging contribution to the development of Japanese society.
Today, as the direct successor of Sumitomo’s original business, SMM once again draws inspiration from this illustrious history to move forward based on the Sumitomo Business Spirit.

(Materials provided by Sumitomo Shiryokan)

1590 onward : Early copper smelting to mining at Besshi

Following years of war-torn strife, Japan moved steadily toward the Edo Period, an era of relative peace and tranquility. Around that time, the Sumitomo family firm succeeded in mastering the new technology of copper smelting. The start of operations at the Besshi mine later provided the foundations for business development.

1860s onward : At the end of the Edo Period and with the Meiji Restoration crisis - Adoption of modern Western technology

As feudal society, in which the samurai class had played a dominant role for over 670 years began to break down in Japan, the Besshi mine, caught up in social transformation, faced a severe crisis. However, Sumitomo was able to overcome these challenges at the dawn of a new age for the country.

1890s onward : Copper smelter relocation, and the start of nickel refining

Japan was now developing at a rapid pace as modernization proceeded. The Besshi mine followed this trend, experiencing good fortune and the occasional crisis as it made progress.

1950s onward : Entry into the electronics sector and the closure of Besshi

Japan's economy recovered rapidly in the years following WWII. This led to demands from Western countries for Japan to liberalize trade and make its currency fully convertible. Japan eventually dismantled tariffs and promoted free trade. SMM responded by undertaking fundamental business reforms to ensure the company would be internationally competitive.

1970s onward : Hishikari mine operation - to growing international competitiveness

As the years of high growth started to come to an end, Japan’s largest manufacturers led corporate Japan in a dynamic campaign to develop global business franchises. SMM adopted this global challenge as well, and set about building an internationally competitive business platform.