There’s enough tungsten to make over 35 million cubes each year

Washed Tungsten, Rwanda. (Image by Fairphone, Flickr).

Surging sales of tungsten cubes may prompt a question: just how much is this weighing on supply of the metal? The likely answer is, not very much.

For example, take the 2-inch variant, currently retailing for $399 and weighing in at 5.2 pounds. Global mined production of the metal totaled 84,000 metric tons in 2020, according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey. That equates to more than 35 million 2-inch cubes each year. And that’s just based on annual output, excluding inventories or recycled supplies.

Intense interest in tungsten cubes recently has turned them into a meme asset, with sales rising three to six times their usual level, according to one U.S. retailer. Customers — including, notably, crypto traders — are snapping up the hefty chunks of pure tungsten metal, which can be bought online in various dimensions.

Obviously there are industrial demands for tungsten, from drill bits to super-hard alloys used in mining and the oil industry. But it would take an awful lot of cube sales to make a big dent in the global market.

(By Simon Casey)

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