Top 10 Tungsten-p​roducing Countries (Updated 2024)

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 78,000 metric tons (MT) in 2023, down slightly from 2022’s 79,800 MT. The vast majority of tungsten mining and processing occurs in China. Looking forward to 2024 and 2025, increased production of the critical metal is seen coming from mines in South Korea, Russia, Spain 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 2024 and beyond. The market for tungsten is expected to see total revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8 percent through 2024 to 2030 to reach nearly US$9.51 billion in value.

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.

1. China

Mine production: 63,000 MT

China produced 3,000 MT less tungsten in 2023 as it did in 2022, but remained the world’s largest producer by a wide margin. That said, China’s tungsten production has been falling 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 27 percent of total American tungsten imports between 2019 and 2022.

Tighter tungsten supplies out of China in 2024 may lead to higher prices for the metal despite growing production from ex-China sources.

2. Vietnam

Mine production: 3,500 MT

Vietnam’s tungsten production in 2023 came to 3,500 MT, down by 500 MT from 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.

3. Russia

Mine production: 2,000 MT

Russia’s tungsten production remained flat in 2023. 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. At the same time, the war is fuelling tungsten demand given the metal’s use in ammunitions.

4. North Korea

Mine production: 1,700 MT

North Korea’s annual tungsten production rose by 180 MT over the previous year to reach 1,700 MT in 2023. The Mannyŏn mine in South Hamgyong province is the country’s largest tungsten mine.

In fact, tungsten ore is North Korea’s top export, worth nearly US$31 million in 2022, with the majority being consumed by China. Tungsten’s top spot in North Korea’s export market may be due to the fact that it’s one of the few metals not listed under UN sanctions on the country’s trade.

5. Bolivia

Mine production: 1,500 MT

Bolivia has managed to increase its tungsten production since 2014 as a result of moves to promote the tungsten industry in the country. The South American nation’s output increased to 1,500 MT in 2022 from 1,360 MT the previous year.

The Bolivian mining industry is heavily influenced by Comibol, a state-owned mining umbrella company.

6. Spain

Mine production: 1,500 MT

Spain’s tungsten production tied with Bolivia this year, after rising by 87.5 percent over the previous year to1,500 MT in 2023.

There are a number of companies engaged in the exploration, development and mining of tungsten assets in Spain. Examples include Almonty Industries (TSX:AII,OTCQX:ALMTF) and EQR Resources (ASX:EQR), which acquired tungsten producer Saloro last year.

7. Rwanda

Mine production: 1,400 MT

Rwanda produced 1,400 MT of tungsten in 2023, on par with 2022’s output. 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. Nevertheless, the country is an important exporter of tungsten, accounting for 31 percent of global tungsten trade in 2022.

8. Austria

Mine production: 910 MT

Austria was the eight largest producer of tungsten in 2023, putting out 910 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.

9. Australia

Mine production: 800 MT

Australia’s tungsten production increased by 300 percent to overtake Portugal for the ninth spot on this list. The country’s 2022 output of the metal came to 200 MT, compared to 800 MT in 2023.

Resource companies with Australian-based tungsten projects include Tungsten Mining (ASX:TGN), with key tungsten. rojects such Mt Mulgine, Big Hill and Kilba in Western Australia, Watershed in north east Queensland and Hatches Creek in the Northern Territory; the aforementioned EQR Resources , with its flagship tungsten assets at Mt Carbine in North Queensland; and Group 6 Metals (ASX:G6M), which recently brought the historic Dolphin tungsten mine back into production.

10. Portugal

Mine production: 500 MT

Portugal is another country on this list that saw its tungsten production remain flat in 2023. It put out 500 MT of the metal, on par with the 500 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 4,000 MT. The Panasqueira mine is Portugal’s largest tungsten-producing operation.

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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