Sepfluor's Nokeng mine is on budget and
schedule to bring its first fluorspar shipments to the market
in early 2019, with no major delays in the ramp-up forecast by
chief executive officer Rob Wagner.
Construction at the 210,000-tonne-per-year
plant will finish by early October this year and the ramp up
will follow, allowing the first initial trial shipments of
around 5,000-10,000 tonnes to leave the plant in January and
The Nokeng Mine, situated near Pretoria in
the Guateng province in South Africa, is majority-owned and run
by Sepfluor. Construction started in July
Wagner is bullish on
Sepfluor’s ability to bring the product to market
with no major delays due to the company’s HR
strategy and contractual arrangements with the company
constructing the plant.
"It is easy for someone to build a plant
but more difficult for another company to then take over the
plant and ramp it up to capacity," Wagner said.
"Our contractor has extensive experience
running similar plants, and they will leave 13 key managers in
operational roles on site for six months after; providing on
the job training for Sepfluor’s staff," he
This combines with the company having
brought in management positions very early in the process. As
an example, the general manager has been on the
company’s books for 18 months.
The fluorspar market has been waiting for
Canada Fluorspar's 200,000 tpy of capacity to come online,
which was widely anticipated in late 2018. There has been no
official word on the reason for the delay.
Sepfluor has pre-sold about 40% of its
material on three-year contracts, which provided the
foundations of finance for the company. Wagner declined to
comment on the price at which these contracts were
Industrial Minerals' acidspar, 97%
CaF2, dry filtercake, fob Durban, South Africa price
stands at at $350-400 per tonne as of April 19.
This moved up from $300-350 per tonne on
January 25 and it has since held firm.
The price increase reflected a lack of
Chinese product available in the international market, a supply
gap that was serviced by South African and European material.
South African and European suppliers raised their prices in
response to this stronger demand.
Chinese exports slumped
in the latter months of 2017, attributed to sporadic production
levels due to government environmental controls on mining.
Although they spiked again in January 2018, exports fell back
to below-average volumes of 10,000 tonnes in February.
Wagner noted that Sepfluor has received
inquiries from Chinese consumers, describing this as
On the topic of current prices, Wagner
says the company is not counting on seeing prices in the
$400-500 per tonne range in the short term, rather settling
closer to $350-360 for acid grade, fob, 97% CaF2, dry
filtercake, fob, Durban.
Of the 210,000 tpy capacity at Nokeng,
180,000 tpy will be acid grade and 30,000 tpy will be metal
grade with impurities of less than 10ppm arsenic and 1% iron,
according to Wagner.
Sepfluor's customers so far have been
largely from North America and Europe.