Swedish alloys company Minpro has begun supplying “quick mix” ferro-tungsten to Japan, a source close to the company told Metal Bulletin on the sidelines of the International Tungsten Industry Assn event in Sydney.

“There has been one big shipment so far. The company is about six to eight months away from being able to sell without a discount,” the source said.

“Then it will be the same price as normal ferro-tungsten. They’re hoping to get long-term contracts soon and this is very important.”

Minpro, whose production is marketed jointly by majority shareholders Specialty Metals Trading and Ferrolegeringar, is also continuing to ramp up its production, and is looking to move from 45-50 tpm to 80-90 tpm.

It is already selling material in Europe and the USA, and is planning to increase its presence elsewhere in the Americas.

“I think the only thing holding them back is whether they will have enough capacity. They don’t want to increase capacity too fast,” the source said.

“The easiest way to see if people accept the product will be if they pay the higher prices. Of course, there are doubters,” he added.

The company is now working on setting up long-term contracts in Japan, following its success in doing so in the USA.

“They haven’t convinced everybody and they’re putting their energy into bigger accounts,” the source said.

“People need to see the technical benefits. Once their capacity increases, they’ll also increase volumes into Japan, the USA and Europe.”

The company must continue to work to convince customers to accept its product, meanwhile, and it must also ensure a constant supply of the scrap from which quick mix ferro-tungsten is produced.

“Last year, finding enough feed was easy for them. This year has been more challenging because their volumes have increased,” the source said.

“They need to work hard to make sure they have a supply chain in place for next year. They need to have enough scrap and the right quality of scrap.”

Claire Hack
Twitter: @clairehack_mb