event takes place which can be remembered for years afterwards
because of the havoc it leaves behind.
started off with St Jude hitting the shores of the UK and then
onto northern Europe. Winds raged, waves crashed, trees were
upturned. For those travelling this meant cancelled flights, a
sluggish public transport system.
For those who
were attending IMs
Fluorspar Conference, there were concerns that the storm would
mean a field trip to the Peak District to see British
Fluorspars Cavendish Mill operation would be
was not. The only impact the storm appeared to have on the
fluorspar community being delayed flights.
But while the
storm may have passed over the conference and left only a
slight trace, some of the revelations heard over the two-day
event will still leave people rocking, specifically the
industry paying attention to metspar the lower grade of
Cement market opens eyes
This was the
first year that a cement producer was invited to attend
Quintero, quality and process chemistry manager at
CEMEX, Switzerland, told delegates that the company uses
1kg of fluorspar for every tonne of cement it produces.
To put this
into context, the company produces 96m tonnes of cement a year.
It is ranked as number six in the world. Lafarge is the
largest, with 195m tpa cement produced.
fluorspar (cement-spar?) ranges between around 95%
CaF2 and around 37% CaF2.
the three principal types of fluorspar according to its grade
of purity we can also talk about a cement-grade quality,
Quintero said that fluorspar acts as a flux, decreasing the
reaction temperature of 100oC and reducing the
energy costs by 10%, while maintaining the quality of the final
product, which is measured in terms of compressible
Fluorspar also acts as mineraliser, promoting the formation of
specific minerals such as alite and belite, particularly when
high sulphur petcoke is added.
Quintero explained that the process is very sensitive to the
amount of fluorspar added in the kiln, and a deviation from the
right quantity can be detrimental.
presentation by consultant James King also buoyed the case for
metspar, predicting that demand is expected to increase to over
4m tpa by 2029, as the steel sector recovers.
demand is at around 2.5m, King said.
consumption by use is expected to shift dramatically, with
stainless steel and electric-arc furnace steel demand expanding
the most to 2029. China will drive this growth, but it will
also be strong in the Middle East, King said.
presentation, Attila Postalci, director of Steelservices
trading company, told IM that the
Middle East is a major market for metspar, with companies
trading up to 200,000 tpa of metspar.
end-market of fluorspar in the Middle East is the steel
industry, which consumes up to 3,000 tpm of metspar, while
welding is a secondary end-market with 300 tpm of acidspar.
producer and consumer of fluorspar in the region is Iran, which
supplies the mineral to Middle East and Turkey, Postalci
As a follow on from last years meeting,
Hector Valle, fluorine chain director at
Mexichem, the worlds largest producer of fluorspar,
confirmed that the company would be moving to sell downstream
Last year the company said it was looking to
finished products, such as hydrofluoric acid or refrigerant
such as R-22. Now Mexichem said its intention is to move toward
the sale of finished fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers. This
move means that the company will soon control both ends of the
New hydrofluoroolefin (HFO)-based refrigerants could be a
promising growth market for fluorspar products, delegates
heard, but the industry needs to engage in careful risk
assessment and better communication with customers, Sarah
Kienzle, Linden Tree Partners managing director, divulged in a
Refrigeration, of course, is the largest market for
hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), with the mobile air conditioning
(MAC) sector accounting for about 100,000 tpa HFC-134a
refrigerant and 150,000 tpa fluorspar.
However, poor publicity and a lack of education between the
industry and the end market has led to a drop in use.
New projects from
the Peak District to Mongolia
There is no
lack of supply of fluorspar on the market either. Delegates
visited British Fluorspars working site in the Peak
District and later heard a presentation from Peter Robinson,
chairman of the company.
Fluorspar is producing about 300 tpd acidspar, out of 2000
tonnes processed. It has had 14 steady runs and it feeds off
four different types of ore, one of which is bought in.
has updated a lot of its equipment and a lot of its processes
from the days when it was the Glebe Mines site. It is planning
to move to a dry press system in 12 months so it will not have
a tailings pond.
Mongolia, two projects were presented and another discussed
on the sidelines. In a lively presentation Prima Fluorspar
presented Berkh Uul JSC, which it is in the process of
acquiring while Brian MacDonald presented on the Arvin
monspar project, also in Mongolia.
Minerals Corp. which is developing its Dai Uul project in the
Dornogovi Province, was also in attendance. James Rodriguez de
Castro, managing director, told delegates how quickly
infrastructure is being developed in Mongolia.
IM on the
sidelines, Rodriguez de Castro explained the differences
between the projects. Mongolia Minerals is developing a new project,
using modern technology, rather than developing an existing
project. It is also quite a way through the processing study
and has commenced a hydrogeological programme to establish a
water reserve sufficient to run a processing plant for the