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Fluorspar is an industrial mineral composed of calcium and fluorine (CaF2). It is a critical commodity for all industrialised nations given its wide downstream application in a wide variety of chemical, metallurgical and ceramic processes.

Fluorspar reserves are distributed across several countries. China and South Africa have the largest fluorspar reserves at approximately 41Mt each, together boasting ~30% of the world’s fluorspar reserves.

Fluorspar is sold in two different grades:

  • Acid grade fluorspar (acidspar) – a high-purity material used by the chemical industry. It contains over 97% CaF2. Most of the fluorspar consumed in the USA is acid grade even if it is used in lower grade applications. Acidspar is used mainly in the chemical industry to manufacture hydrofluoric acid. The hydrofluoric acid is then used to manufacture a variety of products including fluorocarbon chemicals, foam blowing agents, refrigerants and a variety of fluoride chemicals.
  • Metallurgical grade fluorspar (metspar) – contains between 80 and 96% CaF2. Much of this material is used in the production of iron, steel and other metals. Fluorspar can serve as a flux which removes impurities such as sulphur and phosphorous from molten metal and improves the fluidity of slag. Between 9 and 27kgs of fluorspar is used for every ton of metal produced.

  • Classified as a critical mineral in European Union, USA and China due to significant amount required for electric vehicle (EV) production

  • Used in many chemical, ceramic and metallurgical processes including:
    • production of EV batteries (expected to ramp up exponentially in next decade)
    • aluminium smelting
    • refrigerants
    • nuclear power stations

  • 89% of fluorspar is produced in China, Mexico, Mongolia and South Africa
  • China and Mexico produce about 80% of total production output

  • World reserves currently estimated at 270Mt
  • Together China and South Africa have ~30% of the world’s fluorspar reserves (41Mt each)

  • China and Europe consume 20% of world’s fluorspar
  • Limited new mines planned
  • Certain large fluorspar producing mines decommissioned
  • China’s reserves decreasing due to resource depletion
  • China became a net importer in 2019
  • No superior quality substitutes/alternatives available so projected that supply will not keep up with demand
  • EV batteries electrolyte demand expected to grow >20% pa:
    • projected that supply will not keep up with demand

Uses of Fluorspar

CaF2 is a vital component in several industrial applications, including steel production. It is also used to make anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) which, in turn, is used in the production of refrigerants and to make aluminum tri-fluoride (AlF3), critical in aluminum smelting; uranium fluoride (UF6), used in nuclear power stations; and lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), used to make the electrolyte for lithium batteries.

Traditional applications are dominated by refrigerants, metallurgical and small electronics. New high-growth application are dominated by energy storage.

CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate