Global supplies of fluorspar showed their largest
single-year decline in 2017 since they began to diminish in
2011, a development that was largely a result of industrial
inspections in China intended to reduce environmental
Prices have risen over the course of the 2018 calendar year
so far, because of this tight supply. This meant that the
global supply-demand balance was widely discussed at
Fastmarkets’ annual fluorspar conference, hosted
by Industrial Minerals in Johannesburg, South Africa, last
The price for acidspar, 97%
CaF2, wet filtercake, fob China, was unchanged for the
seventh week at $410-500 per tonne when assessed on September
This was up from $400-420 per tonne at the end of 2017,
which itself was up by by $150 per tonne from $250-270 per
tonne in January of the same year.
The price rise has corresponded with the effects of
environmental inspections on supplies coming out of China. More
than half-a-million tonnes per year of fluorspar production was
withdrawn from global output year-on-year in 2017 compared with
2016, Kerry Satterthwaite of Roskill Information Services told
conference delegates on September 27.
Satterthwaite, who is division manager for carbon and
chemicals at the consultancy, has produced a report based on
This research indicates that 600,000 tonnes per year came
out of the global supply in 2017, reducing the total output by
10% from the 6.3 million tonnes produced in 2016.
This was broken down into a cut in acidspar output of 8%
year on year to 3.7 million tonnes, and a fall in metspar
production of 12% year on year to 2 million tonnes.
"World production of fluorspar has fallen steadily since its
peak in 2011, due to a period of oversupply caused largely by
Asian producers flooding the market with cheap exports,"
"Several acidspar producers ceased production between 2014
and 2017, when acidspar prices dipped below production costs
for many miners," she added.
Since 2012, several projects outside of China have ceased
production. Solvay took two projects offline, one in Bulgaria
and the other in Namibia, while Kenya Fluorspar and South
Africa’s Buffalo and Witkop projects also came
Fastmarkets has reported on
these developments as they emerged:
- The Buffalo and Witkop projects came out of production in
2012; the total fall in output was estimated to be at least
- Solvay took its 80,000-tpy Namibian project, Okorusu,
offline in 2014.
- Solvay followed that with the closure of
its 30,000-tpy Bulgarian operation in Chiprovtsi.
- Kenya Fluorspar ceased production in 2016, taking 120,000
tpy out of the market due to the unfavorable pricing
- British Fluorspar suffered from the effects of a fire
that stopped production, taking its 30,000 tpy mine offline
for six months.
- The Samine mine in northern Morocco reduced its
production to 40,000 tpy of acid-grade fluorspar, from the
previous 120,000 tpy, over the course of two years ending in
2017. Fastmarkets understands that this was because the ore
body had become thinner and headstone grades reduced. The
company is now focused on cement grades, for which
Fastmarkets does not do price assessments, and produces
- Mongolrostvestment reduced
its output of fluorspar by 10,000 tpy from its mines in
- A total of 600,000 tpy was taken offline in China in
- TOTAL: 1.04
million tpy of fluorspar output
On the supply side, Masan Resources’ Nui Phao
mine in Vietnam has come online, while there was a small
production expansion in Thailand. Looking ahead, Canada
Fluorspar has shipped 22,000 tonnes so far this year while it
goes through its ramp-up, and Sepfluor hopes to begin
production early in 2019.
The planned additions to the fluorspar market on the
production side are as follows:
- Germany’s Nickelhuette brought
40,000 tpy to the market over 2014-2015.
- Masan brought 200,000 tpy to the market in 2016.
- Gujarat Fluorochemicals opened a 40,000-tpy mine although
around 11,000-12,000 tonnes will be consumed internally
- SC Mining in Thailand added
12,000 tpy in 2018.
- Canada Fluorspar hopes to ramp up to
its 200,000-tpy nameplate capacity by early 2019.
- Sepfluor, in South Africa, will bring
200,000 tpy to the market early in 2019.
- The Kenyan
Mining Ministry is looking for investors to bring its
previously idle 100,000-tpy fluorspar project back
- TOTAL: 280,000 tpy already online, with
another potential 500,000 tpy planned for the near
Without taking account of growth in demand, which is widely
perceived by the market to be around 3% per year, this revised
output total would leave the fluorspar market
In trying to assess how the situation may develop in 2019,
and how the supply-demand balance may continue to influence
pricing, Guillermo Gallegos, upstream business director for
Mexichem, believes that the trend toward reduced production
"We expect demand to maintain its rate of growth, driven
mostly by [needs for] refrigeration gases, aluminum fluoride
and fluoropolymers," Gallegos told conference delegates in
"Despite the fact that new producers are entering the
market," he added, "we believe that overall demand, including
China, will absorb any incremental supply, and as a result the
balance in the market will continue to be short, resulting in