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JX Nippon Mining says to step up transformation to advanced materials firm

TOKYO, June 6 (Reuters) - Japan's JX Nippon Mining & Metals, a unit of Eneos Holdings Inc, will step up its transformation from a mining and smelting company to an advanced materials supplier by boosting output capacity, President Yoichi Hayashi said on Tuesday.

JX, which is set to sell a majority stake in Chile's Caserones copper mine to Lundin Mining Corp this month, has been shifting its focus to electronic materials that are used in smartphones, cars and telecommunication infrastructure.

"We will make an aggressive investment on growth segments such as semiconductor materials and rolled copper foils in the next three years to meet rising demand," Hayashi told a news conference.

Meanwhile, the non-ferrous company aims to improve profitability of its flagship mining, smelting and refining segment by restructuring, he said, though actual steps have not been sorted out.

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Under its long-term vision, JX plans to generate 80% of targeted operating profit of 250 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in 2040 from advanced materials, up from around 40% of an average annual profit of 102 billion yen in the past three years.

Asked about possibility of investing in new copper projects by 2040, Hayashi said: "No decision has been made on whether or not to develop new copper mines."

The company's plan is to secure the metals that will be needed to produce advanced materials, Hayashi said, noting it is looking to invest in rare metals such as tantalum and titanium.

Its parent Eneos, Japan's biggest oil refiner, said last month it was preparing to list JX, although the plans had yet to be finalised.

"We want to go public as soon as possible as it will lead to a faster decision-making and an acceleration of research and development in advanced materials," Hayashi said.

($1 = 139.5500 yen) (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; editing by David Evans)