Rare earths, fluorspar and graphite slide; frac sand logistics dwarf mineral value
Fluorspar, graphite, rare earths prices all tick lower
Antimony trioxide firming up; Bad news for TiO2
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CEO confident in underlying fluorspar market; company allocates funds for Nevada
Tertiary gearing up to drill MB project in Nevada
Expansion in doubt despite considerable reserves and foreign investment
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China Shen Zhou Mining & Resources Inc. acquired 60% of Wuchuan Dongsheng Mining Co. Ltd under an agreement through its subsidiary Xiangzhen Mining Ltd and Wuchuan’s shareholders.
The decline in natural graphite prices - seen in May for the first time in three years - has continued in Europe and North America, although Indian levels appear to have stabilised, market sources told IM in August.
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Fluorspar is the commercial name for fluorite, a form of calcium fluoride (CaF2). Pure fluorite contains 51.3% calcium and 48.7% fluorine.
Fluorite is the primary source of fluorine, however relatively minor sources of fluorine include cryolite (Na3AlF6), sellaite (MgF2), topaz (Al2SiO4[F,OH]2), villiaumite (NaF), bastnasite ([Ce,La][CO3]F), and fluorapatite (Ca5[PO4,CO3]3F).
Naturally occurring cryolite, used in the aluminium smelting process, has largely been replaced by synthetic cryolite.
Fluorspar may be found in a range of geological environments, such as hydrothermal and sedimentary, associated with barytes, calcium carbonate, galena, pyrite, quartz and sphalerite.
Grades produced include:
Metallurgical grade fluorspar (metspar), ≤ 97% CaF2
Ceramic grade fluorspar, ≤ 97% CaF2
Acid grade fluorspar (acidspar), ≥ 97% CaF2.
Another source of fluorine is fluosilicic acid (FSA), made as a by-product from the processing of phosphate rock into phosphoric acid for the fertiliser industry. FSA for its fluorine content has primarily been used as a water additive, particularly in the US.
The worlds identified resource of fluorspar is approximately 500m. tonnes contained, according to the USGS. However, if reserves of fluorine present in phosphate rock are also considered, then this adds a further 1.4bn tonnes of fluorspar, which at 3.5% fluorine would contain about 101m tonnes of 100% calcium fluoride (fluorspar) equivalent. World reserves of phosphate rock are estimated to be 65 billion tons, equivalent to about 4.7bn tonnes of 100% calcium fluoride equivalent.
South Africa is the single largest holder of these reserves (17%), followed by Mexico (13%), China (10%), and Mongolia (9%).
World fluorspar production capacity was 6.8m tpa in 2012, and dominated by China (61%) and Mexico (17.5%), followed by smaller production in Mongolia (6%), Russia (4%), South Africa (3%) and Spain (2%).
Leading fluorspar producers include:
Kenya Fluorspar Kenya
Mongolrostsvetmet Mongolia/Russia j-v
Okorusu Fluorspar (Solvay) Namibia
Steyuan Mineral Resources Group - China
Vergenoeg (Minersa) South Africa
There are two principal grades of fluorspar, which are defined based on the CaF2 content of the material. Metallurgical (and ceramic) grade fluorspar contains ≤97% CaF2, while acid grade fluorspar contains ≥97% CaF2.
Metspar is primarily sold as a flux into markets for iron and steel casting and steelmaking.
Acidspar is the raw material for hydrofluoric acid (HF) and thus for all fluorochemicals, in addition to being an important feedstock for aluminium fluoride (captive) and other markets (such as welding rods).
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