Top 8 Tungsten-producing Countries (Updated 2023)
Which countries account for the most tungsten production? China leads the world by a large margin.
Tungsten has many applications. It's used in electrical wires, as well as in welding, heavy metal alloys, turbine blades and as a lead substitute in bullets.The metal can also be found in heating and electrical contacts.
According to the US Geological Survey, global tungsten production came in at 84,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022, up slightly from 2021's 83,800 MT. The vast majority of tungsten mining and processing occurs in China. Looking forward to 2023, increased production of the critical metal is seen coming from reopened mines in Australia, South Korea and the UK.
Tungsten’s importance in a wide range of industrial categories, from smartphones to car batteries, means demand is likely to rise. At the same time, supply chain disruptions and increased production costs are weighing on global supply. Tungsten prices have traded upward in recent years, and market dynamics are expected to push the metal higher in 2023 and beyond.
With that in mind, it’s worth being aware of which countries produce the most tungsten. Here’s an overview of the top tungsten-producing countries last year; data is from the US Geological Survey.
Mine production: 71,000 MT
China produced the same amount of tungsten in 2022 as it did in 2021, and remained the world’s largest producer by a wide margin. That said, China’s tungsten production has fallen slightly in recent years — the Asian nation has limited the quantity of tungsten-mining and export licenses it awards, and has imposed quotas on tungsten concentrate production. The country has also recently increased environmental inspections.
In addition to being the world’s largest tungsten producer, China is the world’s top consumer of the metal. Aside from that, China has been the main source of tungsten imported into the US since 2017, reportedly representing 29 percent of total American tungsten imports between 2018 and 2021.
Mine production: 4,800 MT
Vietnam’s tungsten production remained flat in 2022 at 4,800 MT of the metal, same as the previous year. Privately owned Masan Resources runs 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.
Mine production: 2,300 MT
Russia’s tungsten production has followed that of its competitors, remaining flat in 2022. The war between Russia and Ukraine has hampered Russia's ability to trade and make deliveries of tungsten to the world market as it continues to face sanctions.
Russia is a significant supplier of the metal to Europe, and restrictions on the country’s metal imports have increased the continent’s dependency on Chinese imports.
Mine production: 1,400 MT
Bolivia has managed to increase its tungsten production since 2014 as a result of moves to promote the tungsten industry in the country. However, its output decreased to 1,400 MT in 2022 from 1,563 MT the previous year.
The Bolivian mining industry is heavily influenced by Comibol, a state-owned mining umbrella company.
Mine production: 1,100 MT
Rwanda produced 1,100 MT of tungsten in 2022, down from 1,340 MT in 2021. Tungsten is one of the most common conflict minerals in the world, meaning that at least some of it is produced in war zones and is 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.
Mine production: 900 MT
Austria was the sixth largest producer of tungsten in 2022, putting out 900 MT, on par with the previous year. Much of that production can be attributed to Wolfram’s Mittersill mine, which is located in Salzburg and hosts Europe's largest tungsten deposit.
Mine production: 700 MT
Spain’s tungsten production rose by 75 percent in 2022, up from 400 MT the previous year.
Mine production: 500 MT
Portugal is another country on this list that saw its tungsten production remain flat in 2022. It put out 500 MT of the metal, nearly on par with the 502 MT produced in the previous year.
The European country has the lowest known tungsten reserves figure out of all the nations on this list, totaling just 3,100 MT. The Panasqueira mine is Portugal’s largest tungsten-producing operation.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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