US imports of acid-grade fluorspar increased for the third
straight year to 350,000 tonnes in 2018, according to the US
Geological Survey (USGS).
This year’s volume rose by 19,000 tonnes from
2017’s total of 331,000 tonnes. Imports were only
slightly up in 2017 from 328,000 tonnes in 2016, which was flat
The biggest supplier of acidspar and metspar to the United
States between 2014 and 2017 was Mexico, which contributed
69% of material. The other exporters were Vietnam (10%),
South Africa, (8%) and China, (6%); 7% of imports came from
Other import sources could include Mongolia, which primarily
produces metspar, and Spain, although the data did not specify
Some 81.2% of all fluorspar imports to the US were
acid-grade fluorspar in 2014-2017.
Meanwhile, metspar imports fell to 60,000 tonnes in 2018 from
70,000 tonnes the year before. This came despite a resurgence
in the US steel market - a major end market for metspar,
aided by US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on
Major US companies Honeywell and Chemours are the main
consumers of imported acidspar.
Honeywell is the only US consumer with the technology to
process high-arsenic acidspar, which comes from Mexico, meaning
any Mexican acidspar is likely to have gone to Honeywell.
Lincoln Electric also imports acid-grade fluorspar for its
US operations. Fastmarkets estimates Lincoln Electric consumes
around 20,000 tonnes per year of acidspar in its global
operations, including facilities in Europe.
US acidspar prices have stayed at a low level for several
months, in part due to a long-term contract between
Mexico’s sole fluorspar producer, Mexichem, and
Fastmarkets assessed the monthly price for acidspar, 97%
CaF2, wet filtercake, cif, US Gulf Port, US at $260-270 per
tonne on February 28, flat on the previous assessment.
New product entering the US
Fluorspar imports continue to flow into the US, with demand
for the material likely to increase in the coming months.
Canada Fluorspar (CFI) started operations in 2018 sending its
first shipment of 4,700 tonnes in August 2018. This shipment
was received by the Houston-Galveston customs district in
Texas, according to the USGS report.
Chemours’ plant is in Fayetteville, North
Carolina, while Honeywell has its automotive refrigerant plant
in Geismar, Louisiana.
Given the proximity of Louisiana and Texas, which share a
border, it is likely that Honeywell received this first parcel
In February, Chemours opened a new plant in Corpus Christi,
Texas, producing low global warming potential (GWP)
refrigerants. The company’s fluorspar consumption
is expected to increase to feed this plant although it is
unclear how much fluorspar will be needed.
The company has said the plant will triple its total capacity
of low-GWP refrigerants.
Fastmarkets has opened a market consultation to seek feedback
on its proposal to discontinue its acidspar, 97% CaF2, wet
filtercake, cif, US Gulf Port, US, $/tonne price.