Warren Buffett: All That Glitters Is Tungsten?
Warren Buffett doesn't like gold, but he's apparently taken a shine to tungsten.
Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) outfit International Metalworking Companies announced an $80 million investment in Woulfe Mining's (CVE: WOF) Sangdong South Korean tungsten project this week. Woulfe CEO and President Brian Wesson spoke to Benzinga about the project and the tungsten market.
“We've been looking around, and we came into the project about two years ago,” Wesson said. “The economics are very strong.”
Sangdong, once one of the world's biggest producers of tungsten, closed in 1992 due to low mining prices and is estimated to have another 40 years of mine life remaining. The deal, if not the companies associated, is impressive for a junior miner.
“It's not easy for little companies to play with big boys,” Wesson said.
The price of tungsten increased in 2010, and in 2011 continued upward as the metal's supply struggled to provide for a recovering market's demands. Many believe the price of tungsten pricing will continue its climb in 2012.
China, tungsten's once-dominant global producer, has been limiting its export and production efforts due to the country's growing internal needs. Higher duties and a lack of expansion of existing mines in China presents a market opportunity for Woulfe, as well as tungsten producers Malaga (TSX: MLG) and North American Tungsten (CVE: NTC)
"They're [China] forcing the tungsten [market] and then charging 20%," Wesson said. "They're controlling the process."
Woulfe's Sangdong mine is expected to start production in early 2013, Wesson told Benzinga, stating that he expects Sangdong to produce 7% to 10% of global tungsten production, as well as half of non-China production.
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