Tungsten

An important material for high-speed steel tools, technology and electronics, tungsten is the heaviest engineering material and has the highest melting point of all metals

Tungsten (W)

Tungsten is primarily used in cemented carbide and high-speed steel tools. It is also used in technology and electronics. Tungsten is unique in that it has extremely low vapour pressure, its corrosion resistance is excellent, and it does not oxidise in air and therefore needs no protection from oxidation. China is both the largest producer and consumer of tungsten. Vietnam is the second biggest producer, although the country produces only a fraction of tungsten when compared to China.

TDi’s data indicates that tungsten is associated with several major ESG issues, including child labour and violence and conflict. High-profile reports linking tungsten to these issues stem from the material’s designation by the United States and European Union as a ‘conflict mineral’ in DR Congo. NGOs and media organisations typically consider tungsten collectively with the other three ‘conflict minerals’, tin, tantalum and gold. However, DR Congo is currently only a minor producer of tungsten, meaning that the share of global tungsten supply that is actually associated with ESG issues is very low

Main Uses and Attributes

Tungsten is the heaviest engineering material with a density of 19.25 grams per cubic centimetre. It also has the highest melting point of all metals. Tungsten is advantageous in that it has extremely low vapour pressure, even at high temperatures. Where more conductive metals such as copper and silver erode under the conditions of an electric arc, tungsten withstands these.1https://www.itia.info/tungsten-in-steel.html Its corrosion resistance is excellent; it is not attacked by nitric, hydrofluoric, or sulphuric acid solutions. Tungsten does not oxidise in air and needs no protection from oxidation at elevated temperatures.

Tungsten is primarily used in cemented carbide and high-speed steel tools. It is also used in lighting technology, electronics, power engineering, coating, and joining technology, the automotive and aerospace industries, medical technology, and in jewellery.2https://www.itia.info/tungsten-in-steel.html Tungsten is an important component for modern circuitry in microelectronic devices.3https://www.itia.info/electronic-electrical-industry.html

The steel industry is now the second bigger consumer of tungsten. Tungsten consumption for steel differs considerably geographically; the United States uses about 2 percent of tungsten for steelmaking, Europe and Japan consume around 10 percent, and Russia and China consume approximately 30 percent.4https://www.itia.info/tungsten-in-steel.html

Main Uses

  • Electronics
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Steel

Key Industries

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Electronics and Communications
  • Jewellery
Top Producer China
Top Reserves China

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Tungsten for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.

Overall Supply Chain Resilience Risk
Strength of Association with ASM
Very Low Moderate Very High

Country Governance Risks

Tungsten's association with countries experiencing:

Violence and Conflict
Weak Rule of Law
Poor Human Rights
Poor Environmental Governance
Very Low Moderate Very High

Association with ESG issues

TDi Sustainability's data rates Tungsten's association with the following issues as high or very high:

Violence and Conflict
Child Labour
Non-Payment of Taxes
Very Low Moderate Very High

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