South Korea is actively restarting the Sangdong tungsten mine, 180 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to break Beijing’s control over the rare metal and break its dependence on China.
South Korea consumes the most tungsten per capita globally and imports 95% of its tungsten from China.
Almonty Industries owns the Yeongwol tungsten mine and is set to reopen it after more than 20 years of dormancy.
Lewis Black, CEO of Almonty, told Reuters that the company intends to offer roughly half of the operation’s processed output to its domestic market as an alternative to the Chinese supply.
Black said that It’s easy to buy from China and that China is the largest trading partner of South Korea, but we know we’re over-dependent.
Lee Dong-seob, Almonty’s vice president, said they will reopen it now because it means sovereignty over natural resources.
Tungsten is an essential raw material for advanced technologies such as cell phones, chips, electric vehicles, and missiles.