Tungsten prices have slipped over the past year, touching four-year lows, but could 2015 hold stability for the metal?
For our 2016 tungsten outlook, please see: Tungsten Outlook: Does 2016 Have Potential?
In 2014, tungsten slipped to its lowest price in four years amidst weaker Chinese demand and a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the Asian juggernaut needs to rid itself of export limitations.
China has long been a dominant force in the tungsten market, dating back to the 1980s when it first started cornering the market, and this past year the Asian nation was a big driver of oversupply in the space.
“As the year has gone on [prices have] softened a little bit,” said Robert Baylis, managing director and manager of minor metals research at Roskill. “Lots of the oversupply has factored into pricing, and that’s obviously something which is a slight concern.”
But next year could see stabilization as the market adjusts to tungsten supply.
“The year as a whole is likely to be similar to 2014, with supply coming into a little more of a balance,” said Baylis, adding that if WTO restrictions come into place by the second half of next year, prices could soften a little further.
Another trend to look for may be a focus on brownfield sites. More companies, such as Wolf Minerals (ASX:WLF,LSE:WLFE) and Margaux Resources (TSXV:MRL), have been focusing on such areas as companies increasingly turn to historical tungsten locations to develop projects.
For his part, Baylis said he is looking at companies that are focusing on quick project development through feasibility to offtake. He’s keeping an eye on Ormonde Mining (LSE:ORM), one of the few tungsten companies in Spain; Northcliff Resources (TSX:NCF), located in Canada; Australia’s Venture Minerals (ASX:VMS); and Premier African Minerals (LSE:PREM) in Zimbabwe.
Securities Disclosure: I, Nick Wells, hold no direct investment in any of the companies mentioned in this article.