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Newsletter "SEI NEWS" 2013

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[Newsletter "SEI NEWS" Vol.435]

Sumitomo Electric to Start Tungsten Refining and Scrap Recycling Operations in the United States from March 2014

Sumitomo Electric industries, Ltd. and New York Tungsten L.L.C., a subsidiary of Buffalo Tungsten Inc. (BTI), a tungsten powder producer in the United States, have established a joint venture company, Niagara Refining LLC (NIRE) to produce tungsten trioxide (WO3), an intermediate material, from raw ore as well as scrap recycled material. Operations are set to begin in March 2014.

Tungsten, the primary raw material in carbide cutting tools, is found in only a limited number of countries, mainly in China; it is a rare metal, the supply of which is highly volatile, although Sumitomo Electric has been mostly reliant on imported supplies.

In the past, A.L.M.T Corp., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Electric, has imported tungsten trioxide (WO3) from China and other countries to produce tungsten carbide (WC) powder as a raw material for carbide tools.

With the start of NIRE's operations, Sumitomo Electric will be able to produce tungsten trioxide (WO3) within the Group by using both sources?refined ore from mines and recycled scrap from the market?instead of purchasing it from abroad.

With WO3 material produced by NIRE and WC powder produced by A.L.M.T., Sumitomo Electric will be able to control the whole supply chain from raw material to finished product, which will promote production optimization and strengthen its competitive edge through cooperation within the Group.

 

The flow from the refining of tungsten ore and recycling of scrap to produce carbide tools

The flow from the refining of tungsten ore and recycling of scrap to produce carbide tools

NIRE produces tungsten trioxide (WO3), an intermediate material, from refining ore and recycling scrap.

 
■General review of tungsten recycling
Carbide alloy recycling system of Sumitomo Electric Group

Tungsten is the primary raw material in carbide cutting tools and is categorized as a rare metal. However, recycling in Japan has not been promoted so well; only 25% is recycled, compared with 50% in the U.S. and 40% in Europe. To secure stable supply and efficient use of materials, the Sumitomo Electric Group has established a tungsten recycling system by using two recycling techniques, zinc treatment and wet chemical treatment, in order to recycle (collect, solve, and reprocess) scrap indexable inserts and other carbide alloy products into high-grade tools.

Why should we recycle tungsten?

Tungsten ore contains less than 1% tungsten. On the other hand, carbide tools consist of about 85% tungsten. In view of refining efficiency, recycling scrap carbide is much more efficient than refining ore. In the meantime, in order to produce one cutting insert, we need to refine a substantial amount of natural ore. Given the entire energy cost required for mining and transportation, recycling scrap carbide is much more environmentally friendly.

 

Outline of NIRE

Company name Niagara Refining LLC
Business Production of tungsten trioxide (WO3)
Location Depew, NY, U.S.A.
Capital 19.3 M USD
Investment ratio Sumitomo Electric Carbide Inc.* 60%
New York Tungsten L.L.C. 40%
Establishment April 2010
Start of operation March 2014 (scheduled)
President Mr. Roger Showalter
Employees About 40

Niagara Refining LLC

* The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Electric, responsible for sales and operation of carbide tools in the North American market

 
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