Germany increases fluorspar self-sufficiency

By Andrew Miller
Published: Saturday, 24 January 2015

Nickelhuette becomes Germany’s third fluorspar producer as operations begin in the Ore Mountains

Germany’s fluorspar production is expected to increase by over 25,000 tonnes in 2015, as metallurgy company Nickelhuette escalates output at its new site in the Ore Mountains. 

The company, which brought the mine online during H2 2014, successfully produced 4,000 tonnes fluorspar last year and is looking to increase this towards a capacity of 40,000 tpa throughout 2015. 

This is forecast to see a total output of around 30,000 tonnes over the next 12 months, 80% of which will be acid-grade material for sale in the domestic market. 

Nickelhuette’s project will be the third fluorspar operation in Germany alongside Sachtleben Bergbau’s Clara Mine in Oberwolfach and the Ilmenau Gehren project, owned by Fluorchemie Group. 

This increased production will make Germany’s fluorspar sector more self-sufficient as consumers attempt to diversify supply chains in the wake of China’s attempts to cut exports. 

China’s proportion of German acidspar imports rebounded to their highest point since 2006 in 2013 and 2014, as an abundance of low-cost supplies began to emerge in reaction to weak end-market conditions. 

While this proportion could increase further in the short term as fluorochemical producer Solvay looks to replace the lost output from the closure of their Okorusu mine in Namibia, in the longer term Chinese imports are expected to fall as more regional trade patterns prevail. 

The escalation of production within Europe will aid consumers’ attempts to secure supply chains and although the market for low-cost supplies will remain, China’s competitive advantage as a low-cost supplier is expected to deteriorate as output increases from other areas of Asia. 

Today, Germany remains one of the largest global markets for fluorspar behind China and the US.

Despite German fluorspar consumption falling to around 200,000 tpa from highs of over 300,000 tonnes, larger quantities are now being imported from other European nations and parts of Africa.

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LONDON, UK

Andy Miller, Analyst

amiller@indmin.com

Shruti Salwan, Analyst 

ssalwan@indmin.com

SHANGHAI, CHINA

Albert Li, Analyst

ali@indmin.com