Mitsubishi and Sumitomo look to Australia as they seek to reduce reliance on China for tungsten

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Image credit: Vital Metals website

Tungsten is a hard, rare metal which is widely used in machine tools, munitions, and defence equipment and is key component in touchscreens for smart phones and tablets. Currently, China has the reins when it comes to tungsten production.

Image credit: Vital Metals website
Image credit: Vital Metals website

Global manufacturing leaders Mitsubishi and Sumitomo want to reduce their reliance on China for tungsten and are considering investing in the $1 billion Watershed tungsten mine, located near Cairns in Queensland, The Courier Mail has reported.

The mine is being developed by WA’s Vital Metals  and Vital’s Joint Venture partner the Japanese Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), which has a 30% interest in the project.

JOGMEC will pass on its interest to a Japanese company, which will take responsibility for financing its share of the Watershed mine and will in return secure reliable access to a high quality tungsten concentrate for a decade or more.

Mining will be carried out using cheap low-risk open pit methods.

Vital Metals managing director Mark Strizek told The Courier Mail that the Japanese are seriously looking to invest between $50 million and $100 million in the form of debt and project financing in Australia.

Discovered and explored by Utah Development Company Limited (“Utah”) in the early 1980’s, the Watershed tungsten deposit ranks among the 10 largest unexploited non-Chinese tungsten deposits worldwide. The mine is expected to have a lifespan of 10 years, producing from 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes of tungsten annually.  A tonne of tungsten concentrate is valued at $32,000.

For more information about the project, please go to http://vitalmetals.com.au/projects/watershed-overview/