OVERVIEW & STRATEGY
Tungsten West Plc is a mining development company focussed on restarting the world-class Hemerdon tungsten and tin mine on the outskirts of Plymouth.
The company is the 100% owner of the previously producing Hemerdon Mine, which is currently the third largest tungsten resource in the world.
With demand for strategic metals, including tungsten and tin, increasing rapidly due to heavy use in new technology, Tungsten West aims to meet this demand by restarting production at Hemerdon during 2023.
A strategic asset for the UK
The Government published the UK’s first critical minerals strategy which aims to accelerate the growth of the country’s domestic capabilities to mine critical resources.
The Strategy states: ‘The world in 2040 is expected to need 4 times as many critical minerals for clean energy technologies as it does today.’
26 materials were assessed for their potential criticality to the UK economy in terms of their global supply risk and the UK economic vulnerability to such a disruption. Eighteen of the these have a ‘high’ potential criticality rating based on these criteria, and constitute the UK Critical Minerals List. Tungsten is on it, and so too is tin – both of which are found at the Hemerdon Mine.
Tungsten also features on the critical minerals lists for Europe and the US. This is largely due to China’s current dominance in the supply of tungsten world-wide, which stands at around 82%.
The Hemerdon Mine has the potential to make the UK one of the largest producers of tungsten in the world.
Tungsten West acquired the mine out of a receivership process in 2019 after its most recent operators stopped production in 2018. The site benefits from over £200 million investment under the previous operators, including the development of significant infrastructure and processing facilities.
Hemerdon was producing tungsten and tin concentrates from 2015 to 2018, before the operator put the mine into receivership due to a number of issues that have since been identified and will be rectified by Tungsten West.
Tungsten West became an AIM (Alternative Investment Market) listed company in October 2021 when £36M was raised to help fund the project, after the deduction of fees.
Tungsten West is set to directly employ approximately 200 members of staff once operational.
It is estimated that the presence of the mine will indirectly support a further 1,200 jobs throughout the broader supply chain which are required to support the operation.
Geopolitical Demand Factors:
A number of geopolitical factors are affecting the demand of Tungsten. These include:
Defense Procurement Act 2026: This law, effective in 2026, bans the use of Chinese tungsten in the U.S. defense industry.
The Atlantic Declaration 2023: This declaration aims to secure US-UK leadership in critical technologies, enhance economic security and technology protection, promote responsible digital transformation, develop clean energy, and strengthen the alliance in defense, health security, and space.
China's Rare Earth Export Restriction (2010): China restricted rare earth exports to Japan amid tensions over the Senkaku Islands, prompting Japan to fortify its mineral supply chains.
China's Metal Export Limits for Chipmaking (June 2023, CNBC): China imposed export restrictions on key chipmaking metals in 2023, signaling tech competition with the U.S. and Europe.
China's High-Tech Manufacturing Ambitions: China aims to become a high-tech manufacturing powerhouse to rival the U.S., potentially using its rare earth resources as leverage due to their vulnerability for Japan and the U.S.
Warning on China's Chipmaking Exports (June 2023, Reuters): An advisor cautioned that China's export restrictions on chipmaking materials are just the start of a broader strategy, especially relevant ahead of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's visit.
Tungsten West aims to be a responsible, ethical and sustainable mining operator. As such, the company is looking at renewable sources of energy to support production at the mine, as well as supplying secondary aggregates to the construction industry with by-products that would otherwise be considered as waste, and hence has approximately 25% of the carbon footprint of primary aggregates.