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- CRB Fundamentals - 2008 Commodity Articles


Tungsten (symbol W) is a grayish-white, lustrous, metallic element. The atomic symbol for tungsten is W because of its former name of Wolfram. Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal at about 3410 degrees Celsius and boils at about 5660 degrees Celsius. In 1781, the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered tungsten.

Tungsten is never found in nature but is instead found in the minerals wolframite, scheelite, huebnertite, and ferberite. Tungsten has excellent corrosion resistance qualities and is resistant to most mineral acids. Tungsten is used as filaments in incandescent lamps, electron and television tubes, alloys of steel, spark plugs, electrical contact points, cutting tools, and in the chemical and tanning industries.

Prices - The average monthly price of tungsten at U.S. ports in 2007 fell by 3.0% yr/yr to $257.68 per short ton, down from the 2006 record high of $265.68 per short ton.

Supply - World concentrate production of tungsten in 2005 (latest data available) rose by +1.0% yr/yr to 70,100 metric tons. That was another new record high.

The world's largest producer of tungsten by far is China with 61,000 metric tons of production in 2005, which was 87% of total world production. Russia is the next largest producer at 6.3% with only a miniscule production of only 4,400 metric tons.

Trade - The U.S. in 2007 relied on imports for 70% of its tungsten consumption. U.S. imports for consumption in 2004 fell by -10.0% yr/yr to 2,080 metric tons, which was a12-year low. U.S. exports in 2005 were negligible at 52 metric tons.

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