Sellers of acidspar in China have received increasing
numbers of inquiries this year from international buyers,
especially from Europe and the United States. These regions
rarely placed orders in China during 2021 due to the Covid-19
pandemic, China’s relatively high prices compared
with those from other global suppliers last year, and rising
global transportation fees.
"All acidspar trades have been going to the Asian
region, benefiting from the distance advantage. We had no deals
from European or US buyers for a long period because last year
China’s acidspar prices were higher than the rest
of the world, but recently inquiries have started to appear
again," a fluorspar acidspar seller said.
According to China’s official data, a
total of 47,358 tonnes of fluorspar were exported in 2021, down
by 33% from 70,704 tonnes in 2020, and most of that volume went
to Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and
Sources said that the return of demand from Europe and
the US has been caused by several factors, including
continuously rising global acidspar prices, concerns about
potential fluorspar supply reductions from Canada, and
relatively steady Chinese prices.
Supply and rising prices
International fluorspar markets face uncertainty in
2022 following reductions made to supply outlooks and forecasts
for increased demand in Europe and the US.
News in February that North American fluorspar
producer Canada Fluorspar was going into interim receivership
has worried consumers that, depending on the final outcome,
they may have to source material elsewhere. Canada produced
140,000 tonnes of fluorspar in 2021, according to mine
production estimates by the US Geological Survey.
While potential supply shortages outside China offer
opportunities for exports from the country, there are hurdles
to overcome, including continuing freight delays and increased
bulk shipment costs, rising further recently due to fuel cost
One European distributor said: "It’s very
difficult to start a reliable supply line from a logistics
perspective to China. I see spot business perhaps the better
option for purchasers."
Fluorspar acidspar prices have increased considerably
year-on-year. Fastmarkets’ February assessment for
fluorspar, acidspar, 97% CaF2, wet filtercake, cif Rotterdam,
held stable over the month at $500-520 per tonne, but that was
up substantially from $370-430 per tonne in February
The complete fluorspar value chain held by China has
reduced exports of fluorspar in recent years, in favor of
increased supplies for domestic consumption and subsequent
exports of processed hydrofluoric material. This has to an
extent decoupled China from the global fluorspar
Quality issues reported for material from other
exporting regions can limit purchasing options for fluorspar
consumers. One example is the high arsenic content found in
some exports of Mexican fluorspar, which can restrict its
usability for European consumers.
Steady Chinese acidspar
Unlike the continuously rising global fluorspar
acidspar prices, China’s acidspar market has
remained steady, with prices mostly range-bound without
significant upward support yet, caused by sluggish Chinese
domestic downstream hydrofluoric acid and refrigerants
Most sellers have not adjusted export prices in line
with the relatively steady domestic price, and
China’s domestic prices have been mostly
rangebound at 2,500-2,800 yuan ($393-440) per tonne. Market
participants also estimated that China’s acidspar
prices will not rise dramatically this year, considering no
surge in demand from the downstream refrigerant
Fastmarkets assessed the price of fluorspar, acidspar,
97% CaF2, wet filtercake, fob China, at $430-460 per tonne on
February 24, unchanged since November 18, 2021.
"China’s acidspar prices were not the
highest level in the world, and some suppliers outside of China
pushed up their prices due to tight supply and increasing
demand from overseas consumers, with optimism about the
post-pandemic landscape and expectations of economic growth
re-emerging," a trader said.
As for whether demand from Europe and the US could
last during the rest of 2022, there are different
Some sources believe that if global prices keep
increasing, that will generate more spot interest in
China’s relatively steady-priced materials, but
others think increasing demand from Europe and the US is just
short-term and it is still hard for China to return to being a
net exporter as it was years ago.
"I don’t see China going back to
dominating the export market, but certainly some are pursuing
Chinese material," the European distributor said.
"China has become a net importer of fluorspar since
2018," a second trader added, "having previously been a net
exporter, because it became hard to compete with much cheaper
prices from other global suppliers. But, affected by rising
global prices, more of China’s buyers slowed down
the purchase of imported materials, and at the same time demand
in the export market started to warm up. The situation might
see some changes, and I will be watchful."