US President Donald Trump’s import tariffs on
Mexican produce would affect the industrial minerals sector,
adding potential costs of millions of dollars to businesses in
the United States.
Mexico-origin fluorspar, along with all other Mexican
imports, were to be subject to 5% duty from June 10 if a
resolution to the illegal immigration into the US via the
US-Mexican border was not found. Fluorspar prices were already
at historic highs due to the prevailing tightness in global
supplies and this new duty would add further to costs for US
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for fluorspar,
acidspar, 97% CaF2, wet filtercake, fob Tampico, Mexico,
was $400-450 per tonne on May 30. This was unchanged since
December 13, 2018, but still at a historic high point, last
seen in early 2013.
There is some resistance from the US Senate because Mexico
supplies a lot of agricultural goods to the US.
In 2018, the US imported 235,000 tonnes of acid-grade
fluorspar, which at current prices would cost about $94-105.75
million. The 5% levy would add another $5 million to those
The US also imported 75,000 tonnes of metallurgical-grade
fluorspar from Mexico in 2018, according to data from the US
And there was also potential for the tariffs to be pushed up
to 25% by October 1 if Mexico does not submit to the US
president’s demands on migration.
Minor metals could be caught in 'US-China rare
Elsewhere, traders have suggested that minor metals could
become the next commodities to be caught up in the trade war
between the US and China.
The government in Beijing has made a number of gestures
suggesting that it could restrict the export of rare earths to
These threats have been met with a certain amount of
skepticism among market sources, but they have also pushed up
the prices of a number of critical rare earth commodities.
The US Department of Defense was actively seeking new
sources for these elements, which have a wide range of
applications in the defense and high-tech industries.
And a number of sources have suggested to Fastmarkets that
other strategic metals could be entangled in the trade dispute,
On June 4 this year, the US Department of Commerce released
a federal strategy intended to reduce the
country’s dependence on foreign sources of
'critical minerals’ and promising 'unprecedented
Recommendations included stockpiling, diversifying domestic
critical mineral sources, and more efficient processing,
manufacturing and recycling of critical minerals to minimize
waste and increase supplies.