Metspar price exceeds cost of higher-grade acidspar

By Michael Greenfield, Michael Greenfield
Published: Friday, 05 July 2019

Metspar with 90% CaF2 content is now being sold at a higher price than the higher-purity acidspar, sources confirmed this week.

For several weeks producers had reported that 90% CaF2 fluorspar was being offered at around $540-550 per tonne but Fastmarkets refrained from adjusting its price assessment until the deals could be confirmed by purchasers.

It has now been confirmed and Fastmarkets' price assessment for metallurgical grade fluorspar has surpassed the price for the higher-purity acid-grade fluorspar - a side effect of the environmental inspections that swept through the market last year, according to market participants.

Fastmarkets' latest weekly price assessment for fluorspar, metspar, 90% CaF2, fob China, was $500-560 per tonne on Thursday July 4, up from $460-500 per tonne.

Sources said the higher price was a result of the environmental inspections in 2018 that forced Chinese metspar producers to either relocate operations entirely or to source lower-purity fluorspar from Mongolia. That material then being processed to produce material of 90% quality.

"Last year, [the] environmental regulations [meant] owners had to move the factories to Mongolia, or at least move procurement to Mongolia," one European trader said.

About 600,000 tonnes of fluorspar was removed from the market due the environmental regulations, and although the inspections continue, their impact was most significant in 2018, sources said. 

Consumers of fluorspar have been willing to accept the increase in prices because "they wish to focus on quality of the fluorspar," the trader added. "Of course consumers look at costs, but price is not the number one issue."

A second trader also reported more material coming into China from Mongolia from "new projects."

In contrast, the acidspar market remained flat again this week, leaving Fastmarkets' price assessment for fluorspar, acidspar, 97% CaF2, wet filtercake, fob China, at $460-520 per tonne on July 4 - the fifth week in a row that the price has remained unchanged.

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