Tungsten Market Comment (November 22, 2012)

Both miners and traders in China have boosted supply as some improvement has been seen in tungsten prices on the domestic market lately. Prices for 65 percent grade wolframite have been in the 115,000 to 118,000 renminbi per metric ton range (US$18,456 to $18,939), with deals over the past several weeks often reported at 117,000 renminbi (US$18,779), according to Metal-Pages.

Prices for tungsten products have also improved. In addition to the domestic price increases, Chinese export prices for tungsten carbide reportedly rose from $44 to $45 per kilogram to $45 to $46 per kilogram over the past week. Though APT prices rose in China, export prices are flat at $350 to $355.

Though the tungsten market may have experienced a slight bounce, further upward price movement is not deemed likely or sustainable. Tungsten concentrate prices are expected to be relatively steady over the next few weeks and there appears to be ample supply on the spot market, eliminating a source of support for rising tungsten product prices. Furthermore, production halts among Chinese APT smelters remain widespread and demand from Europe is still weak.

China has released its 2013 export quotas. For tungsten and tungsten products the quota is 15,400 metric tons, the same as it was in 2012.

Trent West is a former jeweler and owner of nine patents for tungsten carbide rings. These days, instead of making rings, he pursues companies that infringe upon his patents. West recently announced the settlement of lawsuits against Stuller, which obtained proper licensing to sell the rings, and Quality Gold, which agreed to stop selling tungsten carbide rings after March 7, 2013.

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