Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tungsten Import Levy Suspended

The government will next month suspend a 5 percent import duty on tungsten ore and concentrate imports for nine months in a move that will enable the country's largest producer to boost output of the hard metal.

The government published a statement Thursday saying a temporary zero duty was approved Jan. 16 and would come into force one month later.

"It will allow us to increase capacity," said Fyodor Mironenko, manager of foreign trade, marketing and logistics for Wolfram, the country's top tungsten producer. "We will increase purchases of concentrate because, until now, the duty has been a constraining factor and made it difficult for us to compete in the world market," he said.

Tungsten, used in weapon making, light bulbs and the balls in ballpoint pens, has almost tripled in value in the past two years on rising world demand. Wolfram has been lobbying the government to remove the duty, which it says makes importing raw materials uneconomic. Its owner, Mikhail Gorbachev, said in November that a group representing various ministries had backed his proposal, but that the government had yet to approve it.

Wolfram owns 63 percent of Hydrometallurg, a smelter in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. About 30 percent of the smelter's output covers Russia's needs and the rest is exported to the European Union, the United States and Japan.

Mironenko said the smelter produced about 3,000 tons of yellow tungsten trioxide and APT, a heavily traded intermediary product, last year -- similar to output in the last few years.

"We hope that volumes will increase this year," he said, without giving an exact estimate.