Why Warren Buffett is Loading Up on Tungsten

Although he says he doesn’t want to own gold, the world’s most famous investor has taken a shine to what may be the most precious metal of the 21st century – tungsten.

Tungsten – element number 74 on the periodic table — is a super-hard metal used in everything from armor-piercing tank shells to wedding rings.

And the world is running out of it – fast.

That spells opportunity for savvy investors like Warren Buffett.

And it explains why IMC International Metalworking, part of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A, NYSE: BRK.B) empire, recently invested $80 million in a tungsten mining project in South Korea. The deal gives Buffett a 25% stake in what used to be the most productive tungsten mine on the planet. IMC has also guaranteed to buy 90%-100% of all the shiny metal from Woulfe Mining Corp.’s (TXSV: WOF) Sangdong Mine.

Sangdong is expected to produce half of the world’s non-China tungsten and account for 7% to 10% of total global tungsten production when it reopens in 2013.

While the deal may come as a surprise to some, those in the know understand that Buffett just made another shrewd move to lock up supplies of a critical resource.

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