Fluorspar

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  • Europe, US drift away from Chinese fluorspar

    Monday, 02 September 2019

    The consequences of China’s environmental inspections crippled supplies of fluorspar to the rest of the world in 2018, and the material now comes at a premium although quality and delivery are not guaranteed. Michael Greenfield examines how European and US consumers of the mineral are looking elsewhere to secure their supply chains.

  • Year in Review 2018

    Thursday, 20 December 2018

    A round-up of all this year's events in the global industrial mineral sector.

  • Fluorspar market on edge as new participants step in

    Thursday, 06 September 2018

    Moves by Canada Fluorspar and Sepfluor to enter the global fluorspar market have raised questions about how this will affect the worldwide supply and demand dynamic, and how fluorspar prices may be affected.

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Market Brief

Fluorspar is the commercial name for fluorite, a form of calcium fluoride (CaF2). Pure fluorite contains 51.3% calcium and 48.7% fluorine.

Fluorite is the primary source of fluorine, however relatively minor sources of fluorine include cryolite (Na3AlF6), sellaite (MgF2), topaz (Al2SiO4[F,OH]2), villiaumite (NaF), bastnasite ([Ce,La][CO3]F), and fluorapatite (Ca 5[PO4,CO3]3F).

Naturally occurring cryolite, used in the aluminium smelting process, has largely been replaced by synthetic cryolite.

Fluorspar may be found in a range of geological environments, such as hydrothermal and sedimentary, associated with barytes, calcium carbonate, galena, pyrite, quartz and sphalerite.

Fluorspar grades are categorised on the basis of CaF2 content. Major grades produced include:

Other grades include:

Another source of fluorine is fluosilicic acid (FSA), made as a by-product from the processing of phosphate rock into phosphoric acid for the fertiliser industry. FSA for its fluorine content has primarily been used as a water additive, particularly in the USA.

Supply

The world's identified resource of fluorspar is approximately 500m tonnes contained. However, if reserves of fluorine present in phosphate rock are also considered, then this adds a further 1.29bn tonnes of fluorspar (or 630m. tonnes of fluorine).

South Africa is the single largest holder of these reserves (18%) with 41m tonnes of fluorite reserves, followed by Mexico (14%) with 32m tonnes, China (9%) reporting 21m tonnes, and Mongolia (5%) having 12m tonnes.















Nearly 49% of the reserves are not commercially mined or produced.




World fluorspar production capacity is about 6.3m tpa (2012), and is dominated by China (50%) and Mexico (18%), followed by smaller production in Mongolia (7%) and South Africa (3%). Countries including Russia, Namibia and Spain account for 2% each, while Kenya and Morocco contribute 1% individually.














World's major fluorspar producers include:

Mexichem – Mexico

Steyuan Mineral Resources Group – China

Mongolrostsvetmet LLC – Mongolia/Russia (JV)

Minersa – Spain

Kenya Fluorspar – Kenya

Vergenoeg Mining Company – South Africa

Masan Resources – Vietnam

British Fluorspar – United Kingdom

Markets







There are two principal grades of fluorspar, which are defined based on the CaF2 content of the material. Metallurgical (and ceramic) grade fluorspar contains ≤97% CaF2, while acid grade fluorspar contains ≥97% CaF2.

Metspar is primarily sold as a flux into markets for iron and steel casting and steelmaking.












Source: Ray Will, IM Fluorspar Conference 2011



Acidspar is the raw material for hydrofluoric acid (HF) and thus for all fluorochemicals, in addition to being an important feedstock for aluminium fluoride (captive) and other markets (such as welding rods).

Around 60% of fluorspar produced in 2008 was classed as acid grade, with the balance classed as metallurgical grade.