Afghanistan's sole fluorspar deposit to triple capacity in six months

By Michael Greenfield
Published: Thursday, 01 February 2018

The Bakhud deposit in Afghanistan is being developed to supply the hydrofluoric acid and aluminium industries with an additional 122,500 tonnes per year of fluorspar once fully operational.

Afghanistan’s only fluorspar operation is set to bring up to 122,500 tpy of acidspar online within the next six months, bringing fresh supply to a tight market.

The Bakhud deposit, first explored by Amania Mining in 2013, has 4.1 million tonnes of proven fluorite (CaF2) reserves but until now has only been mined for metal grade, 90% CaF2, fluorspar.

The Afghanistan-based mining company, established since 2010, has a 60,000 tpy fluorspar capacity with a current monthly production volume between 3,000-5,000 tonnes, but once capacity has been expanded it will be producing 500 tonnes per day on average, equating to new capacity of 182,500 tpy. 

The market has been tight in the run up to Lunar New Year because almost no Chinese fluorspar has been available for export at a reasonable asking price since acidspar, 97% CaF2, wet filtercake prices spiked to $480-520 per tonne fob, China on January 18, up from $400-420 per tonne on January 11. 

"The market could potentially stay under-supplied for two years, as we have suffered four to five years of depression" one European producer told Industrial Minerals.

Additional supply had been anticipated to hit the market from Canada Fluorspar, although this has been delayed because the company is reportedly fixing production line issues that are typical to start-up operations.

The company, based in Newfoundland, Canada, is likely to bring 200,000 tpy capacity to the global market within a few months, in addition to Thailand-based SC Mining adding another 30,000 tpy to the market within the same time frame.

The two combined will be a relief to consumers who have suffered rising prices in China and South Africa. Industrial Minerals assessed the 97% acidspar, dry filtercake, fob, Durban, South Africa price at $350-400 per tonne on January 25, up from $300-350 the previous week.

This will be welcome news to producers who commit their product to year-long contracts and therefore prefer a less volatile market.

There are queries over the ability of Amania Mining to get this additional supply to the market, while another Europe-based producer voiced concern about safety and security due to the deaths of over 120 people who died in two separate attacks reportedly carried out by the Taliban during January 2018.

The mine is located in the Kandahar province, which was a hotbed of insurgent activity during the Afghanistan War.

Amania mining has a strong foothold in the Turkish market, as well in the UK, India and France. The new supply of acidspar will target the chemical industries that produce hydrofluoric acid to make various hydrofluorocarbons, and the aluminium industry that creates aluminium fluoride, which is needed as a flux agent for smelting.

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