Tungsten is a highly-sought-after transition metal. In a hark back to its initial name of wolfram, tungsten’s chemical symbol is W. Its major ores are scheelite and wolframite. The metal is the hardest element known to man and possesses the highest boiling point of any metal. The only material harder than it is diamonds.
What is Tungsten
Tungsten’s uses are many and varied
A significant proportion of the tungsten consumed by major Western economies is used in cemented carbide parts for cutting and wear-resistant engineering applications. The advantage of cemented carbide is it can withstand deformation, heavy load, high pressure and temperature as well as corrosion.
With these qualities, tungsten is difficult to substitute, and is a key component in many production processes in the defence, automotive, telecommunications, lighting and other industrial sectors. It can even be found in jewellery shops, sporting equipment and dentist surgeries. And its industrial applications are continuing to broaden. With its use increasing in the medical and technology sectors.
Pricing and Supply/Demand Metrics
The price of tungsten is not as transparent as other metals like copper and nickel. The Metal Bulletin provides a once-a-week price quotation for tungsten Prices can also be sourced from Metal Pages.
The emerging consensus amongst mining sector commentators is tungsten prices will trend higher over coming years as demand for the metal stays strong in the face of tightening supply. With China the major supplier of tungsten, accounting for around 80% of total global supply, supply security concerns for many Western economies remain heightened. This at a time when resources in existing mines are depleting and few new mines are in the pipeline. These supply pressures have been a driving force behind moves to recommission some mines that have been closed for many years.