Stagnant tungsten market dips prices

- March 27th, 2009

The ferro-tungsten market has been stagnant in recent weeks, with only a handful of transactions taking place. Last Friday, in China, inactivity translated into a dip in prices. Ferro-tungsten fell to $25.90 a kilogram, down from the recent rate of $28.00 per kilogram.

By Leia Michele Toovey- Exclusive to Tungsten Investing News

The ferro-tungsten market has been stagnant in recent weeks, with only a handful of transactions taking place. Last Friday, in China, inactivity translated into a dip in prices. Ferro-tungsten fell to $25.90 a kilogram, down from the recent rate of $28.00 per kilogram. One producer commented, “There has been a lack of buying activity and there’s no sign that we’ll see a recovery.” Tungsten prices in the United States remain unchanged, but market sources agree lack of purchases could drive down prices. Last October, the price of tungsten took a dive. As a result, in China, an estimated 80 per cent of producers curbed output.

With the promotion of major infrastructure projects around the world, the tungsten market could see a reversal back to previous trends.  The tungsten market is volatile, with a few key players controlling the market share.  In infrastructure development needs tungsten, then prices could be in for a wild ride; especially considering the level of output cuts in the industry.

China’s Jiangxi Ganzhou City has earmarked US $260 million to procure tungsten and rare earth products. Ganzhou will buy 10,000 tonnes of scheelite and tungsten products, and 10,000 tonnes of rare-earth ore to help metal firms struggling on the back of the commodities price collapse. Ganzhou, a city in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province, and the world’s largest tungsten making region, is building up its own tungsten and rare earth reserves. China’s State Reserves Bureau has been buying various metals, including copper, aluminum, zinc and nickel.

A new, large deposit of tungsten ore has been discovered in east China’s Anhui Province.  With a proved reserve of 96,200 tonnes, the finding in Qimen County is an important one for the country as only 144,000 tonnes of tungsten ore have been found between 2001 and 2007. China’s tungsten reserves are mainly in the provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi and Henan, which jointly account for 61.37 per cent of the total national reserve. China, along with Russia, Canada and the United States, is a major tungsten producer in the world. It holds 40.5 per cent of the world’s proved reserves.

Company News

Largo Resources Ltd. (TSX.V: LGO) has acquired a 70 per cent interest in the Northern Dancer property in Yukon Territory. Largo has the option to earn the remaining 30 per cent  interest in the property by making a cash payment of $5,000,000 or issuing the equivalent value in shares of the company within twelve months. Northern Dancer hosts widespread tungsten-molybdenum porphyry style mineralization. The updated mineral resource for the deposit at a cut-off grade of 0.06 per cent WO3 is estimated as measured mineral resources of 30.8 million tonnes grading 0.114 per cent WO3 and 0.030 per cent Mo, indicated mineral resources of 192.6 million tonnes grading 0.100 per cent WO3 and 0.029 per cent Mo. The measured and indicated mineral resource estimate contains 226.9 k tonnes of WO3 and 65.2 k tonnes of Mo. Inferred mineral resources were estimated to be 201.2 million tonnes grading 0.089 per cent WO3 and 0.024 per cent Mo containing 178.3 k tonnes WO3 and 48.9 k tonnes of Mo.

Zijin Mining Group’s profits increased by 20.32 per cent YoY, while it’s operating revenue grew by 11.32 per cent on an annual basis.  The company has attributed the rise in both net profit and operating revenue to increased output of its major products, as well as higher prices. Zijin Mining produced 57.32 tonnes of gold last year, 16.26 per cent higher than the previous year; it also produced 61,409 tonnes of copper in concentrate form increasing by 29.98 per cent from the previous year.  Due to production cutbacks after zinc prices plummeted in the second half of last year, its output of zinc in concentrate form decreased by 25.1 per cent year on year to 33,680 tonnes and its zinc ingot production dropped 11.18 per cent year on year to 101,437 tonnes.

By the end of 2008, Zijin Mining held a total of 701.5 tonnes of gold reserves, 1,700 tonnes of silver reserves, 9.64 million tonnes of copper reserves, 390,000 tonnes of moly reserves, 5.28 million tonnes of lead and zinc reserves, 100,000 tons of tungsten reserves, 151 tons of platinum and palladium reserves, 100,000 tonnes of tin reserves, 667,500 tonnes of nickel reserves, 168 million tonnes of iron ore reserves, 43.97 million tonnes of bauxite reserves, and 300 million tonnes of coal reserves. The company’s planned production for 2009 includes 4,556 tonnes of tungsten concentrate. In addition, Zijin Mining has also revealed its intention to acquire mineral resources due to currently low commodity prices.

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