9 Top Tungsten-producing Countries

Here’s a brief overview of the nine countries that produced the most tungsten in 2016.

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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, “[t]he 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.

1. China

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.

2. Vietnam

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.

3. Russia

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.

4. Bolivia

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.

5. Austria

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.

6. Spain

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.

7. Rwanda

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.

9. Portugal

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.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Avrupa Minerals is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.


This article is updated periodically. Please scroll to the top for the most recent information.

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 (USGS) report on the metal, world tungsten production reached 87,000 metric tons (MT) in 2015, an increase over 2014’s 86,800 MT. The market remained in oversupply, putting pressure on prices, leading a number of Chinese producers to announce plans to reduce their output and forcing Canada’s only tungsten mine into care-and-maintenance mode.

However, that didn’t stop a fair amount of new production from entering the market. A mine in Vietnam continued to ramp up production, while new mines opened in the UK and Zimbabwe. Here’s a brief overview of the 10 countries that produced the most tungsten last year.

1. China

Mine production: 71,000 MT

China is the largest producer of tungsten, accounting for over 80 percent of the world’s total output, and is also the world’s largest consumer of the metal. A 2014 report on the tungsten market predicts that tungsten supply growth will eventually slow due to China’s extensive control over the space, but for now, tungsten production isn’t letting up. In 2015, the country produced 71,000 MT of tungsten, the same amount as the previous year.

2. Vietnam

Mine production: 5,000 MT

Vietnam jumped two spots on the list to become the world’s second-largest tungsten producer for 2015. The country produced 5,000 MT in 2015 compared to 4,000 MT in 2014. Privately owned Masan Resources owns the Vietnam-based Nui Phao mine, the largest tungsten mine outside of China. Since Masan acquired the mine in 2010, it has seen consistent growth.

3. Russia 

Mine production: 2,500 MT

Russia produced slightly less tungsten in 2015 than it did in 2014, dropping to 2,500 MT last year from 2,800 MT the year previous. According to MetalBulletin (subscription), tungsten production in the country was badly affected by falling prices in 2015. Denis Gorbachev, director of business development at Russia’s Wolfram Company, told the publication that no new mining projects have started in the country, with existing ones being slowed or put on hold.

4. Canada

Mine production: 1,700 MT

Canada’s tungsten production dropped drastically in 2015 to just 1,700 MT, down from 2,340 MT a year earlier. As mentioned above, Canadian tungsten output was hampered when North American Tungsten (TSXV:NTC) was forced to put its Cantung mine into care-and-maintenance mode last October. Cantung is one of the largest tungsten mines outside of China. As CBC News reported at the time, the company is aiming to resume production in the summer of 2016.

5. Bolivia

Mine production: 1,200 MT

Despite moves to promote the tungsten industry in the country, Bolivia’s tungsten production remained fairly flat at 1,200 MT for 2015. The country put out 1,250 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.

6. Rwanda

Mine production: 1,000 MT

Despite the tightening regulations surrounding conflict minerals, in recent years Rwanda’s tungsten output has remained fairly robust. The country produced 1,000 MT of tungsten in both 2014 and 2015.

7. Austria 

Mine production: 870 MT

Austria produced 870 MT of tungsten in 2015, the same amount it produced in 2014. Much of that production can be attributed to the Mittersill mine, which is located in Salzburg and owned by Wolfram Bergbau and Hutten. The Mittersill mine hosts the largest tungsten deposit in Europe.

8. Spain

Mine production: 730 MT

Spain made it onto the list of the world’s top tungsten-producing countries last year with 730 MT of production. Still, that marks a drop from its 800 MT of output in 2014.

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).

9. Portugal

Mine production: 630 MT

Like a number of other countries on the list, Portugal saw its tungsten output drop in 2015; its production of the metal fell to an estimated 630 MT from 671 MT a year earlier.

The Panasqueira mine is Portugal’s largest tungsten-producing mine. The largest past-producing mine in the country, the Borralha mine, is currently owned by Blackheath Resources (TSXV:BHR).

10. United Kingdom

Mine production: 600 MT

Finally, the UK made it onto the board with 600 MT of production. In the fall of 2015, Wolf Minerals (ASX:WLF,AIM:WLFE) opened its Hemerdon tungsten mine in Devon. According to the BBC, Hemerdon was the first tungsten mine to open in Britain in over 40 years.

This article was originally published on February 25, 2016.

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Comments
    • # 10. UK ( now # 9.) Now that Canada is not producing until 2041. Unless prices reach $31.00 USD/lbs to breakeven. current price $10.60 USD/lbs. too many low cost 3rd world mines online for 25 years now. UK will be keeped running by tax payers for years to come at a loss. like china keeps theirs running regardless of losses. Tungsten oversupply , low prices. Canada will have to wait until viable.

      Reply
  • 0 .) CANADA – starting 2016 to 2041 ( 25 years ) there will be no Tungsten Mines operational. prices will remain low for next 20 years ( too much supply ) , then to build open pit at Sisson project NB. 27 yrs life. Then 5 years and a cost of 700 million ( actual price ) to build road and mill to Mactung YT. twice as much operational costs in Yukon ( weather and location ) less net profits.
    2041 or later , will be viable for Canada … maybe ?

    Reply
  • Helpful article ! I was fascinated by the details ! Does anyone know where my business could possibly locate a fillable IRS 1065 copy to work with ?

    Reply

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