Nissan’s Takumi engine craftsmen and the GT-REnlarge Photo
Tungsten is a rather important element. Bearing Atomic Number 74, Tungsten is used in a wide range of applications including the production of LCD screens to internal parts of high-performance engines such as crankshafts. There are mines around the globe that supply the planet with its Tungsten, and most of it comes from China. In fact, China produces 85 percent of the world's Tungsten. Some of this Tungsten, however, comes from sources that aren't exactly on the up and up... and that's putting it mildly. It may be less than one percent of the global supply of Tungsten, but Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (aka FARC) is mining the material and selling it allegedly to fund guerrilla warfare.
This group wears the terrorist label. That means that any Tungsten they sell is officially a conflict material.. and it's winding up in the global supply, which is then potentially purchased by many companies. This includes automakers like Volkswagen, BMW, and Ferrari. Of course, the automakers state that they only purchase their Tungsten from official and legal sources. This is increasingly harder to confirm 100 percent, however, because some of the largest supplies of Tungsten might wind up purchasing portions of the element from conflict mines.
All of the Tungsten coming from Columbia doesn't necessarily come from the FARC-operated mine of Tiger Hill. Still, Colombian officials believe that a portion of the exported commodity does and they are working to stop this. It's not an easy battle as you might imagine. Check out Bloomberg's report on the matter for a highly in-depth look at the Tungsten dilemma.