Tungsten Price

When considering the “toughest” materials, most people either think first about diamonds (a form of carbon) or titanium. But you should also add tungsten to the list. It’s actually the strongest material known to man next to diamonds. Of all the non-alloyed metals, it has the highest melting point. It also has the lowest vapor pressure and the highest tensile strength.

It doesn’t occur naturally in its pure metallic state, however. It’s found in several ores like scheelite and wolfram. Most of it comes from China, which accounts for about 85% of the world’s supply. In 2013, China produced an estimated 68,000 metric tons. Russia comes in at a distant second at just 3,600 tons.

Below is the historical Tungsten price per metric ton.

YearPricePrice (Inflation Adjusted)Change
1900$556.00$18,692.810%
1901$359.00$11,760.34-55%
1902$428.00$13,670.7116%
1903$346.00$11,051.56-24%
1904$573.00$18,076.2040%
1905$775.00$23,859.2826%
1906$871.00$25,581.7211%
1907$1,260.00$35,772.6931%
1908$794.00$22,542.47-59%
1909$879.00$23,641.2510%
1910$1,070.00$28,778.3218%
1911$830.00$21,862.08-29%
1912$872.00$22,279.905%
1913$1,010.00$25,289.9414%
1914$1,020.00$25,287.461%
1915$4,080.00$100,148.3575%
1916$4,730.00$107,602.7414%
1917$2,560.00$49,605.98-85%
1918$3,230.00$53,041.3521%
1919$2,510.00$35,966.75-29%
1920$1,090.00$13,511.27-130%
1921$1,200.00$16,619.889%
1922$1,300.00$19,174.518%
1923$1,390.00$20,139.476%
1924$1,180.00$17,096.82-18%
1925$1,470.00$20,819.7220%
1926$1,540.00$21,573.835%
1927$1,440.00$20,521.80-7%
1928$1,450.00$21,021.681%
1929$1,830.00$26,530.8121%
1930$1,680.00$24,929.53-9%
1931$1,530.00$24,949.10-10%
1932$1,280.00$23,165.87-20%
1933$1,330.00$25,364.374%
1934$2,030.00$37,549.9934%
1935$1,860.00$33,664.78-9%
1936$2,060.00$36,733.6510%
1937$2,710.00$46,645.1424%
1938$2,410.00$42,371.26-12%
1939$2,380.00$42,437.95-1%
1940$2,870.00$50,819.4417%
1941$3,260.00$54,976.4012%
1942$3,350.00$50,941.533%
1943$3,490.00$50,019.254%
1944$3,250.00$45,800.92-7%
1945$3,220.00$44,357.91-1%
1946$2,810.00$35,743.17-15%
1947$3,260.00$36,247.5214%
1948$3,650.00$37,542.9111%
1949$3,670.00$38,207.101%
1950$3,930.00$40,388.827%
1951$8,490.00$80,863.9354%
1952$8,820.00$82,440.684%
1953$8,690.00$80,580.92-1%
1954$8,710.00$80,204.940%
1955$8,590.00$79,417.61-1%
1956$8,050.00$73,325.24-7%
1957$3,440.00$30,333.03-134%
1958$2,440.00$20,929.27-41%
1959$2,860.00$24,361.3215%
1960$3,110.00$26,047.998%
1961$2,970.00$24,629.12-5%
1962$3,200.00$26,273.687%
1963$2,950.00$23,910.22-8%
1964$2,820.00$22,563.23-5%
1965$3,800.00$29,925.5426%
1966$4,630.00$35,434.3118%
1967$4,100.00$30,434.64-13%
1968$4,950.00$35,263.2117%
1969$5,240.00$35,383.076%
1970$5,640.00$36,030.347%
1971$6,520.00$39,896.6413%
1972$5,670.00$33,619.56-15%
1973$5,990.00$33,443.475%
1974$10,500.00$52,814.2143%
1975$11,700.00$53,941.4510%
1976$14,000.00$61,006.9216%
1977$20,200.00$82,651.9031%
1978$18,100.00$68,828.42-12%
1979$18,500.00$63,207.092%
1980$18,500.00$55,689.060%
1981$17,600.00$48,032.52-5%
1982$14,000.00$35,977.10-26%
1983$10,400.00$25,897.14-35%
1984$11,400.00$27,216.929%
1985$9,310.00$21,454.78-22%
1986$7,070.00$15,988.94-32%
1987$6,350.00$13,861.63-11%
1988$7,500.00$15,727.1815%
1989$10,600.00$21,209.6929%
1990$8,480.00$16,098.44-25%
1991$9,870.00$17,981.9714%
1992$9,320.00$16,485.37-6%
1993$6,820.00$11,711.97-37%
1994$9,460.00$15,833.9628%
1995$12,400.00$20,189.5624%
1996$10,400.00$16,439.98-19%
1997$9,660.00$14,926.89-8%
1998$8,300.00$12,623.41-16%
1999$7,070.00$10,521.25-17%
2000$8,290.00$11,931.1315%
2001$12,500.00$17,500.2434%
2002$9,080.00$12,511.98-38%
2003$8,710.00$11,732.29-4%
2004$11,600.00$15,214.3125%
2005$29,900.00$37,926.6961%
2006$37,000.00$45,477.4219%
2007$35,900.00$42,923.53-3%
2008$35,100.00$40,430.65-2%
2009$25,700.00$29,721.95-37%
2010$27,000.00$30,733.665%
2011$46,700.00$51,509.5542%
2012$56,700.00$61,253.1118%
2013$46,600.00$49,598.09-22%
2014$43,840.00$45,925.71-6%
2015$40,320.00$42,196.05-9%
2016$38,150.00$39,027.45-6%
2017$35,200.00$35,200.00-8%

Price History of Tungsten

Tungsten price
Piece of Tungsten

The price of this metal depends on several factors, but essentially you can boil it down to two crucial considerations. First you need to look at the supply, and that basically means monitoring Chinese policies regarding its production and exportation. For years, they have kept the price low by amping their production so that they can maintain their market share.

In 2010, they scaled back their mining because of increasing costs in production. And China’s industrialization efforts have meant increased domestic demand for the metal, which left only a little amount for the rest of the world market. In fact, they even started importing the metal. These policies caused the price of the metal to skyrocket.

Then there’s the demand. Its use in high-strength materials makes them an integral component of modernization efforts. The metal is used for advanced cutting tools required in construction, mining, and manufacturing. The metal is extensively used in steel. And mining requires the tungsten-tipped drills. This means any emphasis on industrialization and growth can conceivably increase the demand for the metal, which can then drive up the price as well.

Tungsten as Investment

This metal can be an attractive investment, but it’s considered a strategic material by the US government. It can’t be traded as a commodity in the market.

However, you can buy shares of mining companies that produce tungsten. If the Chinese supply diminishes or the world demand for the metal increases, the value of these shares will increase as well.

Purposes

The uses of tungsten depend on the form it takes. It can be turned into carbide when it’s combined with carbon to create a compound. It can be a heavy metal alloy when mixed with other metals such as tantalum, nickel, iron, or cobalt. It can have chemical applications, as a sulfide (WS2) or as an oxide (WO3).

As tungsten carbide, it has double the stiffness and density of steel. The carbide is extremely hard, and resistant to high temperatures. This makes it an ideal material for cutting tools like high speed drill bits. They’re better at maintaining a sharp cutting edge, they enable faster machining, and in general the result in a better finish.

These hard carbides are also used for sports when equipment is designed to hit or grip hard surfaces. They’re found in rollerski tips, and spikes tipped in sharpened carbide are inserted in snowmobile drive tracks. These studs offer greater traction on iced, so you can find them in specialized winter tires for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.

Some surgical instruments also use these carbides. They’re much more expensive than the stainless steel variants, but they’re sharper. This means they can offer better performance, but they also require delicate handling.

The carbide can also be found in the rotating ball of ballpoint pens and custom guitar slides. It’s also found in the jewelry industry as well, as this material is abrasion resistant and it holds a burnished finish for a longer time.

It is notable for its extremely high meting point. It’s used as to make filaments for incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, as well as for television tubes. It’s a crucial component for the touch screens of all the smartphones and tablets around the world. As an alloy, it is used for a very long list of applications in various industries. These include aeronautics, the automotive industry, and radiation shielding. It is used in heating elements and in nozzles of rocket engines.

It is also relatively chemically inert, and it has conductive properties. For these reasons it’s used in electrodes and in the emitter tips in electron microscopes. It can be found in the integrated circuits in electronics, and in metallic films.

The world needs tungsten, as without it there’s no construction, manufacturing, mining, or even mobile touch screens. As the demand for the metal rises, so will the price and the value of the mining companies that produce it.

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The displayed metal prices are estimates only. They are aggregated using multiple sources. Actual prices may vary based on region, supplier, or various other factors.