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Information on tungsten: sources, properties and uses

Tungsten Mining & Beneficiation

Tungsten is usually mined underground.  Scheelite and/or wolframite are frequently located in narrow veins which are slightly inclined and often widen with the depth. Open pit mines exist but are rare.

Tungsten mines are relatively small and rarely produce more than 2000t of ore per day.  Mining methods for tungsten ore are not at all exceptional and usually are adapted to the geology of the ore deposit.

Most tungsten ores contain less than 1.5% WO3 and frequently only a few tenths of a percent. On the other hand, ore concentrates traded internationally require 65-75% WO3.  Therefore, a very high amount of gangue material must be separated.  This is why ore dressing plants are always located in close proximity to the mine to save transportation costs.

The ore is first crushed and milled to liberate the tungsten mineral crystals.  Scheelite ore can be concentrated by gravimetric methods, often combined with froth flotation, whilst wolframite ore can be concentrated by gravity (spirals, cones, tables), sometimes in combination with magnetic separation. 


© 2011 International Tungsten Industry Association
Copyright images courtesy of: WBH (scheelite mining); Taoxiken Mine (ore sorting)