[Knowledge of Tungsten] Overview of Tungsten

Tungsten is a metal with unique properties making it an essential component in many industrial applications. Critical properties include - very high melting point, very high density, hardness close to diamond, thermally and chemically stable, excellent conductor, and environmentally benign.

The most important use is as tungsten carbide in hard metals, used mainly for industrial drilling and cutting tools. Secondary uses are in electronics and specialist steels.

China accounts for over 85% of world tungsten mine production; western world supply is very limited. USA, Europe and Japan can consume 55% of world tungsten, but produce only 5%. Ormonde’s Barruecopardo Tungsten Project is positioned to produce 10-12% of non-Chinese tungsten mine production in western Spain by late 2013.

Chinese domestic demand has increased, and China has moved from a net exporter to net importer of tungsten concentrates. This increase in Chinese demand, combined with increased controls by the Chinese Government on their domestic tungsten industry and tungsten exports, has led to:

Concerns over security of supply of tungsten concentrates on western processors and industry end-users. This along with other factors has resulted in the EU categorizing tungsten as a "critical raw material".

Chinese domestic consumption of tungsten is forecasted to grow by 5-8% annually between 2012 and 2016.

Growth markets for tungsten are still being identified, such as nickel-tungsten alloys that could replace chrome plating and nickel-tungsten alloys that could replace gold-nickel plating.

Tungsten, with essential applications in industry, aerospace and military, is a strategic commodity.  Stockpiles exist in the US and Russia. China and Japan have also indicated that they intend to build stockpiles and there has been some discussion of the possible creation of a European stockpile