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What Is Tungsten and Where Do I Use It?

  • Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74. It is a shiny, silvery-white metal.

  • It has the highest melting point of all metals and is alloyed with other metals to strengthen them. Tungsten and its alloys are used in many high-temperature applications, such as arc-welding electrodes and heating elements in high-temperature furnaces.

  • It is used in electronics, coating and joining technology, the automotive and aerospace industries, medical technology, the tooling industry and power engineering.

  • Tungsten carbide is immensely hard and is very important to the metal-working, mining and petroleum industries. It is made by mixing tungsten powder and carbon powder and heating to 2200°C. It makes excellent cutting and drilling tools, including a new ‘painless’ dental drill which spins at ultra-high speeds.


Where is Tungsten Produced?

  • China is the major producer of primary tungsten.

  • The other principal producing countries are Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Thailand and several countries in Africa.

  • Some mines which have closed in recent decades in Australia, South Korea and the USA are now considering re-opening.


Specific Issues

  • Due to its unique properties, tungsten, tungsten alloys and some tungsten compounds cannot be substituted in many important applications in different fields of modern technology.

  • China - the world’s largest supplier of tungsten ores, concentrates and intermediates - has placed restrictions on exports of these materials.

  • The export quota for tungsten has been falling over time, reducing from 15,700 tonnes to 15,400 tonnes between 2011 and 2012.



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