China is taking measures to make sure they will be able to supply their domestic tungsten demand; but these measures have a few countries calling foul play.
By Leia Michele Toovey- Exclusive to Tungsten Investing News
In 2010, it is estimated that China will account for 37 percent of the world’s tungsten consumption, and the nations thirst for the metal is showing no signs of slowing down. In order to meet their growing demand for minor metals, the country is once again curbing exports, a move for which they are already under investigation. At the current pace of exploration and production, China’s resources of tungsten will last 20 years, and molybdenum 100 years. The government will cap this year’s output of tungsten at 80,0000 tonnes, antimony at 100,000 tonnes and rare earth at 89,200 tonnes.
China’s curbs on exports of some raw materials have triggered complaints by the European Union, U.S. and Mexico to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is currently investigating if China’s export curbs lend an unfair advantage to domestic manufacturers. The nation in March said it stopped accepting applications for new mines to produce tungsten and antimony until June 2011. China holds approximately 50 percent of the world’s known tungsten reserves.
Despite the current probe, the nation will continue to cut back shipment and production of minor metals to conserve resources and limit pollution, an official said. “Tungsten, molybdenum and vanadium are mineral resources that give China an advantage and are non-renewable,” according to Zhang Fengkui, division head of raw materials at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
In China, the hard alloy sector uses the majority of the tungsten supply, accounting for 58 percent, or 14,504 mt of tungsten. It is forecasted that tungsten consumption by the local hard alloy sector will grow by 8 percent this year, reaching 15,660 mt, Meanwhile, China’s specialty steel sector will be the second-largest tungsten consumer, devouring 5,907 mt in 2010, up from 5,791 mt last year. This would account for 22 percent of China’s national tungsten consumption this year.