Australia, known for its plentiful natural resources, is a major player in the global tungsten industry. Tungsten, commonly known as wolfram, is an intriguing metal with several applications in a variety of industries. This article will look at Australia’s important role in tungsten mining, tungsten manufacturing methods, and the various Australian businesses and industries that use this versatile metal.
Tungsten in Australia:
Australia is well-known for its many mineral reserves, including tungsten. The country has multiple tungsten mines, making it one of the world’s leading tungsten producers. The Dolphin Mine in Tasmania and the Molyhill Mine in the Northern Territory are two notable examples.
- Dolphin Mine TAS:
The Dolphin Tungsten Mine, at Grassy on the southeast coast of King Island, the most western large island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania, is making a comeback. Dolphin Mine, which operated from 1917 to 1992, was forced to close due to low tungsten prices. Group 6 Metals (G6M) revived mining operations at the site in 2023, with over half of its known mineral resources still untapped. The mine has a substantial mineral resource of 4.43 million tonnes of WO3 at 0.92%.
- Molyhill Mine, NT:
The Molyhil Mine lies 220 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. It has an 11,800-tonne tungsten deposit, making it Australia’s largest known tungsten resource. Thor Mining in Australia is leading this open-pit mining endeavour for tungsten and molybdenum.
Tungsten mining in Australia is a fascinating process. Exploration for potential areas is followed by drilling, blasting, and extraction of tungsten-bearing ores. These ores typically contain minerals rich in tungsten, such as scheelite and wolframite. Of course, the mining industry in Australia lays a great emphasis on environmental stewardship in order to minimise any environmental damage.
Making Tungsten from Ore:
When tungsten-bearing ores are discovered, they undergo an amazing transformation. Here’s a basic rundown of how that works:
- Ore Processing:
The tungsten ore is crushed first, then gravity separation is used to concentrate the tungsten minerals. This technique yields a tungsten-rich concentrate.
- Chemical Processing:
The next stage is to use chemical procedures to purify the tungsten and transform it into ammonium paratungstate (APT). This white crystalline combination is rich in tungsten.
- Reducing to the Core:
APT is then reduced, often using hydrogen, to create tungsten metal powder. This powder can be used to make a wide variety of tungsten goods.
Australia’s mining and metallurgy expertise guarantees that the tungsten extracted from its mines is of the highest quality and meets the stringent criteria of numerous sectors.
How is Australian Tungsten Used?
Tungsten, due to its unique properties, plays an important part in several Australian sectors. Once mined and processed into raw tungsten metal, the element is widely used to create a range of various alloys by combining it with steel and other elements to utilise its particular features and characteristics.
Tungsten Metals Group, a local Australian tungsten producer that produces huge quantities of ferro-tungsten for a range of different industries around the world, is one such Australian company involved in this process.
Here are several Australian industries that rely heavily on this amazing metal:
Tungsten is extremely beneficial to Australia’s aerospace sector. It’s utilised to make aeroplane components, rocket nozzles, and ballast weights.
Because of its prominence in tungsten mining, Australia also employs the metal in its mining and resource industries. Consider drilling tools, cutting tools, and heavy-duty machinery components that improve mining productivity and durability.
Tungsten’s electrical conductivity makes it a star in the field of electronics. It is found in electrical contacts as well as the filaments of incandescent light bulbs.
- Renewable Energy:
Tungsten is gaining prominence as the globe shifts towards renewable energy. Its importance in improving the efficiency and durability of solar panels and wind turbines cannot be overstated.
Tungsten’s radiopacity is advantageous in medical imaging and radiation therapy equipment.
Tungsten is essential in general manufacturing processes, particularly in high-precision industries such as automotive manufacturing.
Australia’s global tungsten position is defined by its large reserves, effective mining practices, and commitment to environmentally sustainable mining. The country’s involvement in tungsten mining, combined with its metallurgical competence, assures a steady supply of high-quality tungsten for a wide range of sectors.
As tungsten demand rises in numerous areas around the world, Australia stands tall, ready to contribute considerably to these industries. Australia is a significant player in the global tungsten industry, fostering innovation and technical improvement across numerous sectors due to its endowment of tungsten resources and dedication to safe mining and production practices. Tungsten will continue to shine a light on the route to a brighter, more technologically advanced future, which Australia continues to help forge.