Scrap Tungsten Market is Inactive Recently


The mainstream scrap tungsten price maintains steady. The transaction price excluding tax of bit concentrates on ¥187.00-¥191.00/kg, domestic blade is ¥172.00-¥176.00/kg, imported blade is ¥182-186/kg; scrap pure tungsten block is ¥208.00-¥213.00/kg.

The price of the content of scrap tungsten grinding material which is more than 70W is ¥1330.00/mtu, 50W-70W is ¥1270.00/mtu, 30W-40W is ¥1110.00/mtu. The prices above are steady. 10W-20W tungsten unit to ¥635.00/mtu while 8W-10W tungsten to ¥571.00/mtu.

High-level of tungsten concentrate prices has been pared back slightly constantly. The weak situation of tungsten concentrate becomes obvious. Under this circumstance, prices of other tungsten products are hard to increase. At the end of year, scrap tungsten resource is short as well as demand, so traders are inactive to deal. Downstream suppliers do purchasing depend on their requirement, so the intermediate transaction volume is not large. Chinatungsten Online predict that scrap tungsten prices will keep steady constantly.

In the international market, the lowest price of oversea tungsten market shows trend to move up. By the night of 12th, the guiding price of MB ferrotungsten in warehouse Rotterdam maintains $42.30-43.50 per kilogram tungsten, which has increased $0.25; the quotation of ammonium paratungstate keeps $304.00-330.00/mtu.


Tungsten Concentrate Market Shows Downward Trend


Tungsten concentrate market situation tends to be weak that highest-quotation of tungsten concentrate cool back and it is hard to make a deal. As to relate tungsten products, demand of ammonium paratungstate (APT) is still very low. It is hard for suppliers to receive order from end user that many factory owners choose to stop producing. Market of tungsten powder and tungsten carbide powder are steady relatively, the highest quotation could be ¥275.00/kg. Suppliers are not willing to deal at low price level. Chinatungsten Online expected that general situation of tungsten products market shows its downward trend because of weak tungsten demand.

Ken Chernin Shares Extraordinary Stories of Tungsten

The Critical Metals Report: We're seeing bubbling interest in tungsten. Let's talk a little about their uses.

Ken Chernin: Tungsten is historically known as a "war metal" because it was primarily used in ballistics. Demand and pricing followed the historical path of conflict. In recent years, the biggest market has become something called cemented carbide. It is used primarily in specialty tools that need to withstand excessive heat and require extreme durability, like drill bits for oil and gas and mineral drilling. Right now, tungsten's demand is closely linked to gross domestic product, especially with China. The reason I like tungsten is I see it changing from a demand story to a supply story.

TCMR: Are you saying you see potential supply problems with tungsten?

KC: Yes, I do. Tungsten, when I first looked at it, read like a rare earth elements (REEs) story in that 86% of global supply came from China. In REEs, it's around 95%. The Chinese government seems determined to restrict exports because it has made a significant investment in downstream, higher-margin industries using tungsten. Therefore, it is determined to keep what resources it has for itself.

TCMR: Just like the REEs.

KC: Exactly. I found in my research that only three tungsten mines outside of China have operated without extended closures in the past 60 to 70 years. As a result, there was an enormous loss of tungsten-specific knowledge. Tungsten mining and processing is very unique. Today, companies with brownfield or greenfield projects will likely have trouble finding the right people.

Another dynamic is that the higher-grade deposits have been depleted. A large proportion of the new projects are very low grade. Some are 0.09% grades, which is approximately three times lower grade than some tailing recovery projects.

TCMR: China is suffering from all the environmental impact of its mining activities over the years. We certainly would like to see more attention paid to cleaner projects.

KC: Absolutely. That's a very good point. China has moved to close smaller, less efficient tungsten as well as fluorspar mines and has implemented policies aimed at consolidating both industries. That said, in late January 2012, the World Trade Organization (WTO) confirmed its findings from a mid-2011 decision that China's export restrictions on several industrial raw materials, which included fluorspar, were in breach of WTO rules. Although China claimed that the export restrictions on these industrial raw materials were justified for reasons of environmental protection or conservation policy, the WTO did not agree. The complaint was brought by the U.S., Mexico and the European Union. In March 2012, the U.S., the European Union and Japan launched a new WTO dispute against China's export quotas on tungsten, rare earths and molybdenum, and China is again citing environmental and sustainability concerns.

TCMR: Can North American tungsten investors participate in the tungsten story?

KC: Absolutely. We published a research report on Sept. 26 on three publicly traded producers. All tungsten investors is listed in Canada. They're all in production. Tungsten prices have dropped since a year ago to about $350 per metric ton unit (mtu) from $450/mtu (which is 10 kilograms). If we get another sudden spike, these companies benefit immediately. All three companies' contracts are tied to the market price of ammonium paratungstate (APT), which is the main tungsten intermediate.

North American Tungsten is the largest tungsten mine outside of China and the only tungsten mine in North America, so it has strategic importance. However, in my mind, its remote location presents a challenge. I refer to the company as somewhat of a swing producer, as it has been closed in the past owing to low tungsten prices.

TCMR: So, it can essentially come along as the commodity price increases?

KC: Yes, the majority of the operation's costs are fixed so there is leverage there.

TCMR: Spain seems to be a reasonable place to have a mine in terms of jurisdictional risk, infrastructure and support.

KC: Very true. Right now, the mine is running off diesel generators, but the operation is only about seven kilometers from a power substation. Last time I spoke to the company, it was in the process of acquiring the necessary permits to install the power lines. The next step would be putting in the last flotation circuit. The company's stated goal is to achieve recoveries of 65% by the end of the calendar year. Looking at this team and what they've done so far with just putting in a hydrosizer, I believe we're going to see 75–76% recoveries. The cost per mtu has already decreased, and the company is just getting going. Next, it is looking at optimizing the mine, which is open pit.

It's impressive. I was quite impressed with Lewis Black and the chief financial officer (CFO). There is not a lot of information on tungsten out there and Black obviously knows this metal. From Panasqueira, he has put together a team with considerable experience working with tungsten. His team has essentially outlined the optimization of Los Santos in 10 months. Essentially, all Almonty has to do is install the flotation circuit and then optimize the pit.

The company is also looking for acquisitions. We believe that Almonty has aspirations of becoming a global tungsten story.

TCMR: Tell us a little about Malaga.

KC: The Malaga deposit is interesting because there are two different types of commercial tungsten deposits. One is scheelite, which Almonty and North American Tungsten have. The other is wolframite, which is what Malaga is currently mining. Wolframite is much easier to work with and adequate recoveries are achieved with the gravity tables coupled with magnetic separation; flotation is not necessary. The other thing that's really interesting about Malaga, aside from being one of only a few wolframite mines in the Western world, is that it has a 49% interest in a hydroelectricity plant that currently provides approximately 70% of the mine's power demand, with the remaining power coming from the national grid. For these reasons, it is the lowest-cost tungsten concentrate producer of all the publicly traded tungsten companies.

Management recently changed about a year ago. The new CFO, Pierre Monet, has recently started the construction of a tailings recovery pilot plant. This is interesting because it is partially funded by Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. (private), with which it has an offtake agreement. If the company achieves its targeted 50% recovery rate, we estimate that the tailings recovery could increase the company's total tungsten concentrate production by about 14% and reduce cash costs per mtu by about 7%.

TCMR: This would be an interesting one.

KC: It is interesting. The project is Pasto Bueno, which means "good ground." The mine has been in existence since 1910. If the pilot plant works, management is going to install additional similar screens into its main processing facility. If the installation of these screens meet management's expectations, it may be able to boost recoveries by about 5%, which would put it up to about 80%. This would be meaningful for its cost per mtu.

Very little exploration work has been done on the property. What exploration has been done was always focused on the north end of the project. Malaga's new CEO drilled a few holes in the southern portion and discovered a scheelite deposit. The grades thus far look to be encouraging. It has potential to be a high-grade and sizable new tungsten project with excellent infrastructure that is very close to the existing mine. That's very unique.

TCMR: What can you tell us about North American Tungsten, since it's really the only North American tungsten outfit?

KC: It has two projects. Cantung has been in operation since the 1960s.

TCMR: Is it currently producing?

KC: Yes, in fact it is the largest producing tungsten mine in the Western world. Its production in 2011 was approximately 224 thousand mtu (Kmtu), whereas Malaga's was approximately 55 Kmtu and Almonty's was approximately 65 Kmtu when it was owned and operated by Heemskirk Consolidated Ltd. (HSK:ASX). It has a compelling valuation. It's trading at about 50% of our net present value estimate. Again, it's a high-cost operation on the back of logistic challenges. It has good recoveries and high grades.

How this operation is run is encouraging, but there are a couple of issues: the diesel and labor. There is one road in, one road out, which was washed out in June 2012 and resulted in operations being suspended for almost two weeks. I believe that this is indicative of the challenges management faces due to the project's remote location. Workers are flown in and out, and the mine is virtually competing with every mine in Northern Canada for workers.

Ken Chernin has been an equity research analyst with Jennings Capital since November 2008. Prior to joining Jennings, Chernin was a special situations analyst at an Atlantic Canadian investment dealer, where he focused on Atlantic Canadian oil and gas, utility, food retail and real estate companies. He also worked as a research associate for a Toronto-based brokerage firm and in risk management for a Canadian funds management firm. He has corporate governance experience with the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance. Chernin holds a Master of Business Administration from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a Bachelor's in communication from Saint Mary's University, Halifax.

Latest Tungsten Products Has Been Developed to Meet the Most Challenging Conditions

This kind of porous tungsten claims to be stable at extremely high temperatures with the highest melting point of all metals, the lowest coefficient of thermal expansion, and corrosion resistance under the most extreme conditions. 

Tungsten is also electrically conductive and can be welded to other refractory metals to create fully integrated filters or flow control devices. Professors of porous tungsten also demonstrate it could be a solution for the most challenging filtration or flow control requirements.  

Porous metal parts and shapes are also found in a variety of applications throughout industries such as chemical/petrochemical, medical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, textile, power and semiconductor.porous tungsten

Chinatungsten Online indicates, the company is going to introduce this kind of products in near future to satisfy more requirements. 

Tungsten supply glitch hits Pinaka rockets


NAGPUR: A foreign vendor haggling over prices has hit the production of Pinaka rockets, an important weapon system of the artillery. The rockets are made in the ordnance factories including that in Ambajhari and are also suitable for mountain warfare.

Its warheads are filled with tungsten balls to enhance lethality and can be fired up to a range of 40 kms. However, tungsten suppliers, which comes from France, has been held up as the international prices of the metal have shot from around $35 a kg to close to $50 in recent times. The tungsten suppliers now want higher rates and ordnance factory is not willing to shell out the extra amount. This has affected supply of tungsten hampering the production of rockets, said a source closely involved with the affairs.

Fake Gold Goes Viral: 10 Tungsten-Filled Gold Bars Are Discovered In Manhattan

A few days ago, the discovery of a single 10 oz Tungsten-filled gold bar in Manhattan’s jewelry district promptly went viral, as it meant that a tungsten-based, gold-counterfeiting operation, previously isolated solely to the UK and Europe, had crossed the Atlantic.


The Drilled Gold Bars Filled With Tungsten


Over the weekend there’s been some rather breathless speculation about how a gold bar has been found, one that has been drilled out and filled with tungsten. Given that I’m actually in the metals trade, albeit not bullion or tungsten (I have handled both but they’re not my specialty) I thought I’d have a closer look.

And there’s two parts to the first mainstream report.

Firstly, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has attempted to do the substitution. It’s been known for a long time that the densities of tungsten and gold are close enough that in theory, drilling out a hallmarked gold bar and replacing the interior with tungsten could fool all but the most sophisticated of tests.

You can see the purported photos of the bar that has been found here. Following the story around the claim is made by ABC Bullion that a Swiss refiner (and producer of good delivery bars to the London gold market) MKS had sent out the warning email last week. Which, at least as of lunchtime today was something of a surprise to MKS as when I spoke to them they had no idea about it all. There were quite a lot of people like me asking about it but they had no idea whether the story was true, whether someone in their company had sent it, no real idea of what was going on at all. They were quite mystified in fact.

But as I’ve said, in theory this sort of thing is possible even if it would be very difficult to do in practice. Further, I’m not really sure that the economics of it quite work out either. Sure, tungsten is vastly cheaper than gold but this would be very skilled work with a low success rate and the gross profits are a few thousand $ per 1 kg bar so treated. It’s most certainly not a 5 minute job either. Nor merchandisable. Just not sure that it would be worth it.

Where the story goes off into fantasy though is here (and Felix is correct in the questions he asks to try and work out prevalence):

If there are 1.3 million salted 400 oz bars in existence, and each one is 75% tungsten, then that makes 390 million ounces of gold which in truth isn’t there. At $1,660 per ounce, that’s over $600 billion which people think they own but don’t. To put that number in context, it’s roughly half the total quantity of subprime mortgages which had been issued at the height of the housing bubble.

The answer to this comes from a commenter there:

The amount of turnover in the market is much higher than you think. In the case of the professional market which deals in 400oz bars, yes many of these sit in central bank vaults but many others are held by private investors and these are traded. There has been no occurrence in my 18 years in the industry, and I haven’t heard of others, of fake 400oz gold bars. Any bar coming out of a LBMA accredited refinery can be trusted because the refinery cannot control or know where the bar will end up and during its life there is a good chance a bar will eventually be melted for use by a jeweller or other refiner and as such there is a high probability of being caught out.

In the retail market I’d guess that turnover is a lot higher, particularly as retail investors do tend to exhibit herding behaviour, which means when there is selling it usually overwhelms retail buyers at that point in time. The end result is that in a net selling situation dealers do not sit on gold due to the high holding costs vs low profit margins and uncertainty as to when buying demand will return, so they liquidate that net selling excess back to refiners, where it is melted. Thus there is a fair bit of turnover and again, a good chance of fakes being detected.

I would take that even further. Even the ingots in central banks, or in gold vaults, sometimes get sent off to be refined. For the very same reason those vaults are regularly vacuumed for the trace amounts of gold that have rubbed/been chipped off the ingots. It’s absolutely true that gold doesn’t oxidise or decompose, but as bars are moved around then they inevitably get bumped and after enough of that they are likely to get sent of for refining so as to maintain their good delivery characteristics. And no, a tungsten filled bar would not be refined without someone noticing.

If I were to assign percentages here I’d say that someone trying to drill out a bar and fill it with tungsten would be up near 100%. I’m sure the idea has occurred to lots of people independently. As to this being a common occurrence among good delivery bars I’d put it down somewhere near zero. There’s just too much turnover of bars through the refineries for this to be possible.

Ganzhou Tungsten Industry Registered a Revenue of RMB5.8 Billion During Jan-Oct


The revenue from the main tungsten industry totaled RMB5.8 billion during Jan-Oct this year, rising 26.1% YOY, according to statistics, 10% higher than the average growth over the county. The tax amounted to RMB140Mt, an increase of 87.8% y-o-y and 62% higher than the average growth throughout the county. The tungsten industry gains great momentum.

The county emphasizes on the cooperation with Jiangxi University of Technology, National Tungsten Inspection Centre and Technique Innovation Centre in the county to enlarge tungsten industry, raise the added value of products and extend the industry chain. The county gives great support on capital, water and electricity supply, policy, talents and listing on the market with Shirui New Mateiral Company , Jiangxi Tungsten Alloy Company and other leading enterprises with potential as centre to strengthen leading companies. In the meantime, the county speeds up technology innovation, express the role of finance to support enterprises to expand production and create, transform technique results and from rough processing to deep processing.

Scrap Tungsten Prices are Rare to Fluctuate at the End of Year

The mainstream scrap tungsten prices maintain steady. The transaction price excluding tax of bit concentrates on ¥187.00-¥191.00/kg, domestic blade is ¥172.00-¥176.00/kg, imported blade is ¥182-186/kg; scrap pure tungsten block is ¥208.00-¥213.00/kg.

The price of the content of scrap tungsten grinding material which is more than 70W is ¥1330.00/mtu, 50W-70W is ¥1270.00/mtu, 30W-40W is ¥1110.00/mtu. The prices above are steady. 10W-20W tungsten unit to ¥635.00/mtu while 8W-10W tungsten to ¥571.00/mtu.

High-level of tungsten concentrate prices have been pared back slightly, but ‘high-price with low-demand’ situation still exists. Under this circumstance, prices of other tungsten products are hard to increase. At the end of year, scrap tungsten resource is short as well as demand, so traders are inactive to deal. Chinatungsten Online predict that scrap tungsten prices will keep steady constantly.

In the international market, the lowest price of oversea tungsten market shows trend to move up. By the night of 12th, the guiding price of MB ferrotungsten in warehouse Rotterdam maintains $42.30-43.50 per kilogram tungsten, which has increased $0.25; the quotation of ammonium paratungstate keeps $304.00-330.00/mtu.

Tungsten Concentrate Prices Cool Down Slightly


Currently, tungsten concentrate prices show their downward trend that some providers cannot bear high pressure then increase their own tungsten concentrate prices. At present, the fluctuation of one 65W tungsten concentrate metric ton unite focus on ¥1.53-1.58 while the delivery price of it centralize on ¥1.54-1.56.

According to analysis of Chinatungsten Online, the situation of high-price and low-demand in tungsten concentrate market continues. Basically, tungsten concentrate prices have reached to their highest spot before New Year. The end user’s demand is hard to improve so there is low possibility for tungsten concentrate suppliers to raise their prices. Due to worry about market goes to lower level, tungsten concentrate suppliers are willing to jettison their goods. Chinatungsten Online expects that tungsten concentrate price enquiry is going to increase gradually, nevertheless, transaction volume is still sluggish although the prices decline.