Tungsten is a whitish-gray metal with many unique properties and a wide variety of commercial, industrial, and military applications. The leading use is as tungsten carbide in cemented carbides, which are wear-resistant materials used by the construction, metalworking, mining, and oil and gas drilling industries. Tungsten alloy and pure tungsten metal contacts, electrodes, and wires are used in electrical, electronic, heating, lighting, and welding applications. Tungsten is also used to make heavy-metal alloys for armaments, heat sinks, radiation shielding, and weights and counterweights; superalloys for turbine engine parts; tool steels; and wear-resistant alloy parts and coatings. Tungsten alloys and composites are used as a substitute for lead in bullets, shot, and other products. Tungsten chemicals are used to make catalysts, corrosion-resistant coatings, dyes and pigments, fire-resistant compounds, lubricants, phosphors, and semiconductors.
Domestic Production and Use: One mine in California produced tungsten concentrates in 2010. Approximately eight companies in the United States processed tungsten concentrates, ammonium paratungstate, tungsten oxide, and/or scrap to make tungsten powder, tungsten carbide powder, and/or tungsten chemicals. Nearly 60 industrial consumers were surveyed on a monthly or annual basis. Data reported by these consumers indicated that more than one-half of the tungsten consumed in the United States was used in cemented carbide parts for cutting and wear-resistant materials, primarily in the construction, metalworking, mining, and oil- and gas-drilling industries. The remaining tungsten was consumed to make tungsten heavy alloys for applications requiring high- density electrodes, filaments, wires, and other components for electrical, electronic, heating, lighting, and welding applications; steels, superalloys, and wear-resistant alloys; and chemicals for various applications. The estimated value of apparent consumption in 2010 was $500 million.
Recycling: In 2010, the tungsten contained in scrap consumed by processors and end users represented approximately 37% of apparent consumption of tungsten in all forms.
Import Sources (2006–09): Tungsten contained in ores and concentrates, intermediate and primary products, wrought and unwrought tungsten, and waste and scrap: China, 43%; Canada, 9%; Germany, 9%; Bolivia, 8%; and other, 31%.
Events, Trends, and Issues: World tungsten supply is dominated by Chinese production and exports. China’s Government regulates its tungsten industry by limiting the number of exploration, mining, and export licenses; limiting or forbidding foreign investment; imposing constraints on mining and processing; establishing quotas on production and exports; adjusting export quotas to favor value-added downstream materials and products; and imposing export taxes on tungsten materials. China is the world’s largest tungsten consumer. To conserve its resources and meet increasing domestic demand, the Chinese Government was expected to continue to limit tungsten production and exports and to increase imports of tungsten. In addition, the Chinese tungsten industry was investing in mining projects outside of China and increasing its use of tungsten scrap.
In 2010, global economic conditions improved and tungsten consumption increased compared with the low levels of 2009. The sole Canadian tungsten mine restarted production in October 2010 after being on care-and-maintenance status for 1 year. By November, a combination of recovering demand, Chinese controls on production and exports, and a temporary suspension of tungsten sales from Defense Logistics Agency, DLA Strategic Materials (formerly Defense National Stockpile Center) resulted in tightening supplies of concentrates and increased prices.
In recent years, the tungsten industry has increased its monitoring of proposed legislation and scientific research regarding the impact of tungsten on human health and the environment.
World Resources: World tungsten resources are geographically widespread. China ranks first in the world in terms of tungsten resources and reserves and has some of the largest deposits. Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United States also have significant tungsten resources.
Substitutes: Potential substitutes for cemented tungsten carbides include cemented carbides based on molybdenum carbide and titanium carbide, ceramics, ceramic-metallic composites (cermets), diamond tools, and tool steels. Potential substitutes for other applications are as follows: molybdenum for certain tungsten mill products; molybdenum steels for tungsten steels; lighting based on carbon nanotube filaments, induction technology, and light-emitting diodes for lighting based on tungsten electrodes or filaments; depleted uranium for tungsten alloys or unalloyed tungsten in weights and counterweights; and depleted uranium alloys for cemented tungsten carbides or tungsten alloys in armor-piercing projectiles. In some applications, substitution would result in increased cost or a loss in product performance.
Tungsten Producers Alconix Corporation (TYO:3036) - Their Electronic and Functional Material division produces tungsten as well as molybdenum and other metals.
China Molybdenum Co. - ferro-tungsten
China Tungsten and Hightech Materials Co (SHE: 000657) - Tungsten carbide, tungsten powder, and tungsten oxide.
ESPI High Purity Metals - http://www.espimetals.com/metals/cattungsten.htm Geodex Minerals (CVE: GXM)
EMC Metals (TSE: EMC) - Springer Tungsten Facility in northwestern Nevada
Global Tungsten and Powders Corp.
Golden Odyssey Mining (CVE: GOE) - Deer Horn property in West-Central British Columbia
Hazelwood Resources (ASX: HAZ) - http://www.hazelwood.com.au/ - Cookes Creek Tungsten project and a stake in Asian Tungsten Products Company
Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation (HKG: 2626)
Malaga (TSE: MLG)
Nippon Tungsten Co (TYO: 6998) - http://www.nittan.co.jp/ North American Tungsten Corp (CVE: NTC) - http://www.northamericantungsten.com/ Northcliff Resources (CVE: NCF) - Sission tungsten-molybdenum project in New Brunswick
Paradigm Metals (ASX: PDM) - http://www.paradigmmetals.com.au - White Rock Tungsten property, as well as tungsten resources at Rye Park in New South Wales, Australia
Planet Metals (ASX: PMQ) - http://www.planetmetals.com.au/ - Wolfram Camp tungsten mine
Playfair Mining (CVE: PLY)
Thor Mining (ASX: THR) - Molyhill Tungsten and Molybdenum project in Northern Territory, Australia
Wolf Minerals (ASX: WLF) - Hemerdon Ball tungsten project
Woulfe Mining - Sangdong Tungsten Mine in South Korea
Xiamen Tungsten Co (SHA: 600549) - http://www.cxtc.com/ - China's largest producer/exporter of tungsten and molybdenum
Tungsten World - tungsten wedding bands and tungsten rings
(wiki) - Tungsten on Wikipedia
Tungsten News 2011-08-03 - (reu) - Woulfe Mining sees sparkle of minor metal tungsten
2011-07-26 - (pi) - Stephen Leahy, Chairman and CEO of North American Tungsten, talks about producing 25,000 metric tonne units (mtus) of tungsten trioxide per month
2011-07-26 - (bw) - Supply shortages and high prices hamper tungsten market growth
2011-07-20 - (rin) - US tungsten scrap dealers report strange market behavior
2011-07-09 - (mw) - Tungsten miner Malaga bets metal price not yet maxed out
2011-07-05 - (mw) - Tungsten in same boat as rare earths - Malaga CEO
2011-07-05 - (nw) - Tumi granted tungsten (a strategic metal) property portfolio including historical resource in the Bergslagen District, Sweden
2011-06-29 - (rin) - Tungsten production outside of China
2011-06-28 - (azo) - Woulfe Mining announces assay results from Sangdong Tungsten Mine
2011-06-28 - (pi) - Hazelwood Resources confirms near surface high grade tungsten at Mt Mulgine Hill
2011-06-28 - (prw) - Tungsten World to kick off summer and the wedding season in style; celebrating the fourth of July with inlay tungsten rings made in the USA
2011-06-28 - (pi) - Thor Mining new study into Molyhil viability after tungsten price continues to rise
2011-06-27 - (pi) - Thor Mining set to advance gold, tungsten, molybdenum projects in months ahead
2011-06-23 - (im) - Chinese fluorspar spot prices reach a new high
2011-06-14 - (prn) - EMC sells Fostung tungsten property to Janus Resources
2011-06-08 - (bbc) - Hemerdon tungsten pit restart 'will bring 230 jobs'
2011-06-08 - (prw) - Recycling of used tungsten carbide cutting tools pays off
2011-06-06 - (sl) - Tungsten: Could it solve our space junk problem?
2011-06-03 - (dia) - JVC explains new regulations on gold, tungsten
2011-06-02 - (bcl) - Tungsten's 'truth' to come out in assay
2011-06-02 - (nbb) - Tungsten mine EIA report expected by fall of 2012
2011-06-01 - (mw) - Woulfe Mining's Sandong Tungsten Project drill results offer significant encouragement
2011-05-30 - (mw) - North American Tungsten establishes special committee for Mactung, releases second quarter financial results and prvoides an update on Cantung operations
2011-05-25 - (mw) - Jogmec to earn stake in Queensland tungsten project
2011-05-16 - (prn) - Siberian Energy Group acquires molybdenum-tungsten deposit
2011-02-14 - (zh) - Tungsten outperforms gold, returns 70% in last year
2010-11-15 - (mw) - Golden Odyssey tungsten update
2010-11-01 - (fc) - How a handful of countries control the Earth's most precious materials
2010-10-26 - (cmj) - Tungsten-molybdenum development: Geodex, Northcliff create Sisson Brook JV
2010-08-19 - (mp) - Production resumes at tungsten mine
2010-08-09 - (mw) - Largo Resources to advance the Currais Novos tungsten project, Rio Grande de Norte, Brazil
2010-08-04 - (mw) - Malaga: Pasto Bueno Mill up to 450 tpd while tungsten prices hit a new high
2010-07-26 - (mw) - North American Tungsten announces a decision to re-start production at the Cantung Mine.
2010-02-12 - (smh) - Newcrest pays dividend amid interest for tungsten
2010-02-10 - (mw) - Geodex reports new tungsten discovery on Flume Ridge property, New Brunswick
2009-02-09 - (ab) - Tungsten and molybdenum deposits found in Zhangye, Gansu
2007-12-14 - (ri) - The economics and politics of tungsten mining investing in North America
2006-02-01 - (ri) - The trouble with tungsten