Tungsten Mining Process
Tungsten (W) is a gray-white metallic element that is stable and is very resistant to acids and bases. Tungsten has the highest melting temperature of any metal (3422 ° C or 6192 ° F), and the second highest of all elements (carbon is highest).
|Element (Minerals/Ores of)||tetratongal (sheelite), monoclinic (wolframite)|
|Tungstate||Colorless, white, gray, brown, pale yellow, yellow-orange, pale shades of orange, red, green; may be (sheelite)|
|Chemical Formula||Grayish to brownish black (wolframite)|
|scheelite (CaWO4, calcium tungstate) and wolframite ((Fe,Mn)WO4, iron-manganese tungstate).||Luster|
|Streak||vritreous, adamantine (sheelite), submetallic, resinous (wolframite)|
|White (sheelite), Redish Brown (wolframite)||Fracture|
|Mohs Hardness||Subconchoidal, Uneven (sheelite), Uneven, Rough (wolframite)|
|4.5-5 (sheelite), 4-4.5 (wolframite)|
Relation to Mining
Tungsten is retrieved from the ore minerals scheelite (CaWO4, calcium tungstate) and wolframite ((Fe,Mn)WO4, iron-manganese tungstate). A significant amount of tungsten is recovered through recycling of scrap tungsten products.
Tungsten is mixed with carbon to make a very strong, very resistant material called tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide is used to make cutting tools and wear-resistant tools for metalworking, drilling for oil and gas, mining, and construction.
Because it has such a very high melting point and low vapor pressure, tungsten is used in high temperature situations. For instance, the filaments in light bulbs are made of tungsten. It is used in other applications in electronics as well.
When added to steel, tungsten increases its strength. It is alloyed (mixed with) other metals to make “superalloys” which have special physical properties of high strength and heat resistance. Some of the applications for such superalloys are in turbine engines for jet aircraft and energy generation.
It is also used in textile dyes, enamels, paints, and for coloring glass.