Andres Mugica, director, Mexichem Fluor
What are the biggest tasks and challenges
you face as Mexichem Fluor’s
Andres Mugica: We continue to build our fully
integrated global business and in this respect a big task will
be to integrate all our operations and to globalise the chain.
Other important activities include diversification in the
fluoropolymer supply chain and in our refrigerants business,
the transition to low global warming potential (GWP)
How will your previous managerial
experience help you in the new role at Mexichem
As I mentioned, one of our main tasks is the
integration of the chain and the globalisation of the business
and the team. In my previous roles I had the opportunity to
work with global teams and operated in multicultural
Which strategies are you planning to
adopt to consolidate Mexichem Fluor’s leadership
as a supplier?
We are the world’s largest fluorspar
producer, and we will use this position to continue growth in
established downstream sectors. For example, we are developing
new refrigerant products that will allow the transition to low
Simultaneously we will continue to diversify our
activities into other high potential downstream areas, such as
the production of fluoropolymers and
What is your outlook for the refrigerant
The outlook is for the global market to grow,
with a transition to low GWP products driven by regulations
such as F-Gas in Europe. This means we will see a movement away
from HCFCs and higher GWP HFCs towards products such as
unsaturated HFCs, also known as HFOs, which provide similar
performance benefits with low GWP. We are developing HFO
solutions for a range of applications across the refrigeration
and air conditioning industries.
The F-Gas regulations mean that as of 1 January
2015 HFCs sold in Europe must be done so through a quota
system, of which Mexichem Fluor holds one of the leading
shares. We intend to consolidate and build on such leading
positions, alongside growing our activity in areas including
Latin America, the Middle East and India.
What are your plans in view of the recent
verdict from the US International Trade Commission on
China’s R-134a imports, which lifted antidumping
and countervailing duties?
We are extremely disappointed with the verdict,
especially as it ran counter to the previously proposed final
resolution which stated that imports from China of R-134a
should be subject to antidumping duties of 280.67% and
countervailing duties averaging 11.14%. Based on the currently
available information we are considering whether to appeal.
Mexichem Fluor’s Las Cuevas fluorspar mine
How do you see China’s
refrigerant imports impacting the US market?
We are in a similar market as before the
preliminary verdict. We do have a strong position in the OEM
market based on stable long term relationships. Regarding
the aftermarket, we are committed to supporting our customers
and have requested their support to generate a balanced
What are your plans for near-term future
fluorspar production at Las Cuevas?
We will maximise the benefit of our production
capacity, quality and reliability at Las Cuevas, both through
our downstream business and through third parties. In this area
we will increase our offer of fluorspar to a specific
user profile by offering our state-of-the-art
technology for arsenic removal in HF production.
What are your plans regarding
fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers?
Both fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers are an
important part of our strategy, in particular for our
activities in Latin America. We have recently appointed a new
commercial director who will be responsible for the development
of this business.
How do Mexichem’s recent
acquisitions of HDPE producer Dura-Line and PVC producer
Vestolit enable it to become fully integrated in the production
Although aligned in terms of production with our
chloro-vinyl business these acquisitions allow us to bring a
broader offering to our downstream customers and allow us to
meet their demand for fluorinated products.
When are you planning to enter production
of fluoropolymers and will this depend on the completion of the
new ethylene cracker in development through the
As indicated at
IM’s Fluorspar 2014 Conference we
will show activity in the fluoropolymer business in 2015,
although not necessarily through production initially. This is
not connected to the new ethylene cracker.
Fluorochemical producers expressed some
concerns about sustainable supply of fluorspar in the long term
future. Does Mexichem Fluor consider this an
We are committed to maintaining a stable, secure
supply for our customers. Our position as a leading producer
and the largest vertically integrated company in the sector
means we are in a very strong position to continue to do so,
representing a strong competitive advantage now and into the
What is Mexichem Fluor’s
view about the expected new fluorspar projects and how could
these eventually become new competitors to Mexichem
We expect demand for fluorspar to grow so it is
natural to see new projects. As outlined above, our leading
positions in production and integration put us in an enviable
position to deliver the best for our customers. On the other
side, volume and cost of production has been and will be a
major challenge for new competitors.
Where do you see the fluoropolymer market
heading in terms of applications and geographic
We see an exciting future for
fluoropolymers. Global fluoropolymer demand is growing
due to the need for materials that can perform in increasingly
demanding operating conditions. Use is growing in
automobile, electrical, electronics and chemical processing
industries, and new applications are currently being developed,
for example in energy and aerospace. Considering these
trends, we expect a healthy growth in the coming years across
What is your outlook for the production
of AlF3 and other inorganic fluorides?
We have worked hard to make efficiencies across
the aluminium chain and expect increasing demand for
AlF3 looking to 2015. Automotive is a particular
sector where we anticipate growth.
What is the current metspar market trend
and what is your outlook for the future?
Metspar continues to be an important sector for
us, and is of course heavily linked to global manufacturing
trends. This means there can be short term challenges but the
long term view is very positive. We expect growing demand in
the US as steel production increases, whilst we may also see
China increasing imports.
How do you see China’s
position as a fluorspar supplier and consumer in the
China has significant fluorspar reserves and will
continue as a major producer, whilst it will also remain a
major consumer as long as its economic growth continues. We are
already seeing a tendency to reduce exports of fluorspar from
China and an emerging demand for imports.
How do you see FSA as a possible
alternative route for HF supply to the fluorochemical industry
and how could this impact fluorspar demand in the long-term
This technology has been around for some time,
but the economics around its viability are complex.
Finally, what do you expect in terms of
prices and which main factors will play a key role in
determining a possible increase?
Demand across industries is healthy and will
likely remain so. Our downstream integration means we are in
the best position to ensure stability for our customers in
terms of both supply and pricing.