[Translate to Czech:] An interview with GTP President and CEO Hermann Walser

Independence, price stability and sustainability – these are GTP’s pillars of the tungsten raw material supply.

A look at extended periods shows that the prices for tungsten are on a constant roller coaster. How has the price for tungsten developed in recent years?

Hermann Walser: After reaching an all-time high of almost 40 US dollars per kilogram of tungsten oxide (it takes 1.26 kilograms of tungsten oxide to produce one kilogram of tungsten metal power) in 2012, the price dropped more than half by 2016. Since mid-2017, though, we have seen a considerable turnaround and recovery.
Ammonium paratungstate (APT), which is crucial for the price of tungsten, currently trades at about 29 US dollars per kilogram of tungsten oxide.

The low market prices have forced many mines in the West to cease operation. Why?

Hermann Walser: No tungsten mine in the West can operate profitably at the prices we saw between 2015 and mid-2017. This drove numerous mines into bankruptcy or forced them to be placed on a care and maintenance program.

Why can’t these mines simply resume operations when APT market prices rise and cause raw materials prices go up?

Hermann Walser: Tungsten mines primarily extract tungsten. As a result, they are comparatively small and have high fixed and start-up costs. This distinguishes them from other mining projects. The metals molybdenum and rhenium, for example, are recovered as by-products of copper ore deposits. Commissioning often requires new investors, long approval processes, complex production equipment, and extensive production expertise.

What options does GTP have to lessen its dependence
on volatile APT market prices?

Hermann Walser: We are looking to achieve greater price stability overall in the tungsten market – this will help all players: the mines, us as the processors (smelters), and our customers. We see three levers in this regard:
1. We enter into long-term delivery agreements at fixed prices with tungsten mines that are able to produce concentrates particularly efficiently. This gives the mine planning reliability.
2. We seek long-term price agreements with our customers, independently of the daily market price.
3. In the future, we will rely to a greater extent on closed raw materials cycles and using different methods for tungsten recycling. And we are investing heavily in making our APT and tungsten powder production operation as productive and flexible as possible, especially for these secondary raw materials. With flexibility we mean the capability to process primary raw materials (ore) and recycled materials in
varying proportions.

 

We are looking to achieve greater price stability – this will help all players: the mines, us as the processors and our customers.

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