9 Top Tungsten-producing Countries
Author: Bless Time: 2017/07/03
Here’s a brief overview of the nine countries that produced the most tungsten in 2016.
Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a metal with many uses. It is commonly used to produce electrical wires and heating and electrical contacts, but is also used in welding, heavy metal alloys, heat sinks, turbine blades and as a substitute for lead in bullets.
According to the most recent US Geological Survey report on the metal, world tungsten production came in at 86,400 metric tons (MT) in 2016, down from 2015’s 89,400 MT. The decline appears to largely be the result of lower output in China and Canada. In late 2015, eight large Chinese tungsten producers announced plans to reduce their output, while Canada’s only tungsten mine was placed on care and maintenance.
Those reductions in tungsten output came on the back of low tungsten prices, which have been an issue in the space for the past several years. While the US Geological Survey says they are now beginning to move upward, the process has been slow.
That said, tungsten’s importance in industrial applications means that demand won’t disappear anytime soon — as Roskill said recently, “the intrinsic importance of tungsten to industrial applications will ensure that the sector recovers.” With that in mind, it’s worth investors’ while to be aware of which countries produce the most tungsten. Here’s a brief overview of the nine nations that produced the most of the metal last year.
Mine production: 71,000 MT
China produced less tungsten in 2016 than it did in 2015, but was still the world’s largest producer of the metal by an incredibly wide margin. In total, it put out 71,000 MT of tungsten last year, down from 73,000 MT the year before. As mentioned, that decline was likely the result of a reduction in output from eight large tungsten producers in the country. In addition, China is currently limiting tungsten mining and export licenses and has imposed quotas on concentrate production.
In addition to being the world’s largest tungsten producer, China is also the world’s top consumer of the metal.
Mine production: 6,000 MT
Unlike China, Vietnam experienced a slight jump in tungsten production in 2016. It put out 6,000 MT of the metal compared to 5,600 MT the previous year. Privately owned Masan Resources owns the Vietnam-based Nui Phao mine, which it says is the largest tungsten-producing mine outside China. It is also one of the lowest-cost producers of tungsten in the world.
Mine production: 2,600 MT
Russia’s tungsten production was flat from 2015 to 2016, coming in at 2,600 MT both years. Wolfram Company is the country’s largest producer of tungsten products, and in 2015 Denis Gorbachev, the company’s director of business development, Told Metalbulletin that tungsten production in the country had been badly affected by falling prices — no new mining projects have started in the country lately, with existing ones being slowed or put on hold.
Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been trying to bring life back to the country’s tungsten sector. Earlier this year he began pushing for the development of the Tyrnyauz tungsten-molybdenum field; he would like to see a large-scale mining and processing complex established.
Mine production: 1,400 MT
Despite moves to promote the tungsten industry in the country, Bolivia’s tungsten production remained fairly flat at 1,400 MT for 2016. The country put out 1,460 MT a year earlier.
In May 2013, Kennametal (NYSE: KMT) acquired tungsten-processing operations in Bolivia, also securing related material-sourcing agreements. The company hopes the move will eventually allow it to expand global growth while avoiding risks associated with owning mining operations.
Mine production: 860 MT
Austria produced 860 MT of tungsten in 2016 compared to 861 MT the previous year. Much of that production can be attributed to the Mittersill mine, which is located in Salzburg and hosts the largest tungsten deposit in Europe. The mine was owned by Wolfram Bergbau and Hutten until that company was acquired by Sandvik (STO:SAND) in 2009.
Mine production: 800 MT
Spain’s tungsten output dropped slightly in 2016, coming in at 800 MT. That’s down from 835 MT the previous year.
There are a number of companies engaged in the exploration, development and mining of tungsten assets in Spain. Examples include Almonty Industries (TSXV:AII), Ormonde Mining (LSE:ORM), Plymouth Minerals (ASX:PLH) and W Resources (LSE:WRES). You can read more about them here.
Mine production: 770 MT
Tungsten is one of the most common conflict minerals in the world, meaning that at least some of it is produced in conflict zones and sold to perpetuate fighting. While Rwanda has promoted itself as a source of conflict-free minerals, concerns remain about tungsten output from the country. Fairphone, a company that promotes “fairer electronics,” is supporting conflict-free tungsten production in Rwanda.
Rwanda produced 770 MT of tungsten in 2016, down from 850 MT in 2015.
8. United Kingdom
Mine production: 700 MT
The UK saw a huge leap in tungsten production in 2016, with output rising to 700 MT compared to 150 MT the year before. Wolf Minerals (ASX:WLF,LSE:WLFE) is likely largely responsible for the increase. In the fall of 2015, the company opened the Hemerdon tungsten mine in Devon. According to the BBC, Hemerdon was the first tungsten mine to open in Britain in over 40 years.
Mine production: 570 MT
Portugal is one of the few countries on this list that saw an increase in tungsten production in 2016. It put out 570 MT of the metal, up from 474 MT the previous year.
The Panasqueira mine is Portugal’s largest tungsten-producing mine. The past-producing Borralha mine， once the second-largest tungsten mine in Portugal, is currently owned by Blackheath Resources (TSXV:BHR). Avrupa Minerals (TSXV:AVU) is another smaller company with a tungsten project in Portugal.
This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network on February 25, 2016.