World War II-era tungsten mine could be revived

March 12, 2014

Wolf Minerals Ltd could bring back to life a tungsten mine in the United Kingdom that most recently was in production during World War II.

The company said it plans to raise as much as 100 million pounds (US$166 million) to revive the Hemerdon site, Bloomberg reported.

Wolf Minerals hired advisers to help raise funds for the World War II-era mine, with options including debt and equity, managing director Russell Clark told Bloomberg.

“If someone wants to give me the debt, I’ll take it in a heartbeat,” Clark said. “If they don’t, then we’ll probably have to go the equity route.”

The Hemerdon site is the third-largest tungsten deposit and big enough to produce about 3.5 percent of demand for the metal used to harden steel for drill bits and missiles. Ammonium paratungstate, the traded form of tungsten, rose 27 percent in 2013 to $377 a metric ton unit, Metal Bulletin figures show. Tungsten was last extracted from the site 70 years ago.

The mine is scheduled to start output in the first half of 2015 and begin selling the metal from September to November, according to Clark. Output will be about 350 kt units a year.

The mine, which provided material used in both World Wars, closed in 1944 as access to foreign supplies resumed. Tungsten is a “critical” raw material, the European Union says. The British Geological Survey put it at the top of its supply-risk list of materials needed to maintain the economy and lifestyle.


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