Global Tungsten Shortage Looming

Rare Industrial Metal - Tungsten / Wolfram

Tungsten is an essential component in many industrial applications including drilling & cutting tools, electronics and specialist steels. The European Union categorises tungsten as a “critical raw material”. China currently produces 85% of the world’s tungsten but their factories are ravenous consumers and China is a net importer. USA, Europe and Japan consume 55% of world tungsten, but produce only ~5%. It should be no surprise that tungsten prices have surged in the last year, while many other commodities have experienced price decline. Image Link: Tungsten is currently selling for $20 a pound. New growth markets include nickel-tungsten alloys which can substitute for gold-nickel plating.

Playfair’s tungsten properties contain an estimated 100 million pounds of 43-101 compliant tungsten, and significant additional historical resources. These resources have potential for expansion.

Tungsten is a low profile commodity. There is no tungsten ETF, and few pure plays. Outside of China only two publicly traded companies currently produce tungsten: Malaga (MLG-TSX) and North American Tungsten (NTC-TSX). With four high-grade Tungsten deposits, Playfair Mining (PLY-TSX) is highly leveraged to rising prices and looming tungsten shortages. Image Link:

“We feel very fortunate to have 4 high grade tungsten deposits at a time when the price of tungsten has started to move sharply higher,” states Don Moore, Playfair CEO, “We acquired these projects when tungsten prices were depressed. China has an ironclad grip on the market. It’s not surprising that we are starting to see some serious interest from large tungsten end-users who need to get stable supply from outside of China.” Image Link: Tungsten is an essential industrial product but typically insignificant on a cost basis. Like the salt in a bag of potato chips - the price of salt could triple and the bag of chips would only increase a penny. But you can’t sell chips without salt. So with China slurping up most of the global supply - tungsten could see dramatic price increases with little demand destruction. Playfair’s veteran team of Donald G. Moore, Neil Briggs is augmented by Director James Robertson who was a principal in Primary Metals, a tungsten producer taken out by Japanese giant, Sojitz Inc.Judging from public statements by Playfair’s management, the strategy may well be to partner with a tungsten end user to help finance the project into production.

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In addition to the compliant resources at Grey River (16.2m lbs) and Risby (89.4m lbs), Playfair has historical resources of 18.5m lbs at Lened and 5.3m lbs at Clea. Four high grade Canadian deposits: Grey River representing near term production potential, Risby offering massive size potential and all offering room for exploration upside.

Grey River, located on the south coast of Newfoundland, consists of nine mineral claims covering 1,750 hectares. The Grey River tungsten veins are typical fluorite-rich wolframite-quartz greisen vein deposits. A 1984 GSC Economic Geology Report lists the Grey River deposits as “one of the largest typical wolframite deposits in Canada” and states “It would be remarkable if there were not many more tungsten occurrences’ [on the property].” The Grey River deposit sits at tidewater in an ice free, deep water Atlantic port that offers year round shipping.

Risby is an advanced stage deposit in the Yukon accessible by a 25 km tractor road from an all-weather highway. The property is located approximately 55 kilometres west of Ross River and is comprised of 38 quartz mineral claims, all 100% owned by Playfair Mining.

The property was worked on from 1968 to 1982 by the Caltor Syndicate and Hudson Bay Exploration and Development Co. Ltd. Together their exploration efforts include 48 diamond drill holes (7,057 metres), geological mapping, trenching, stream sediment sampling and ground geophysics (magnetometer and EM surveys). Recent work by Playfair includes diamond drilling, resource expansion and a NI 43-101 compliant inferred resource calculation of 8,537,000 tonnes of 0.475% WO3 at a 0.2% cut-off.

Despite surging tungsten prices, Playfair has been hit hard by tax loss selling is currently trading close to all-time lows at $.07. It has a market cap of $5.4 million. The British Geological Survey (BGS) has tungsten #4 on its “Risk List” stating that it is critically vulnerable to supply disruption. With 122 million fully diluted shares and 100 million pounds of 43-101 compliant tungsten on the books - worth about $2 billion at current prices - Playfair is definitely worth a closer look.

Source: Metal Investment News

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