What exactly is fluorspar?
Fluorspar, also known as fluorite is a common rock-forming mineral found across the globe. It is the mineral form of calcium fluoride (CaF2). Generally, the pure fluorite is transparent; however, the presence of impurities gives it a distinct color.
The mineral is easy to identify owing to its hardness and octahedral cleavage. It has a hardness of four on the Mohs hardness scale. The non-metallic mineral is generally used in the production of hydrofluoric acid which is further utilized in various industries including aluminum, steel, glass, fluoride chemicals, and fluorocarbon chemicals, among others.
As per the detailed report published by Growth Market Reports, the global fluorspar market size was around USD 2.2 Billion in 2019 and is anticipated to reach USD 2.6 Billion by 2026, expanding at a CAGR of at least 3% during the forecast period 2020-2027.
Here Below Are the Three Commercial Grades of Fluorspar
Acidspar constitutes 97% of CaF2. This commercial-grade is generally utilized in the production of hydrofluoric acid. This compound is used in the manufacturing of foam blowing agents, fluorocarbon chemicals, and other fluoride chemicals. Moreover, it is majorly consumed in the smelting of aluminum, aluminum fluoride, and aluminum refining, among others. In 2019, this commercial-grade accounted for a significant market share and is expected to expand at a CAGR of at least 4% during the forecast period.
Metallurgical grade contains 60% to 85% of the CaF2. It is known for removing impurities such as sulfur and phosphorus in the manufacturing of stainless steel and is used as a flux in metalworking. This grade is utilized in improving the slag. It helps in sliding down the melting point of raw iron ore. Except for the steel industry, it is also used in the production of cement and also for producing fluorite carved craftworks. The metaspar segment is expected to grow at a robust rate in the foreseeable future.
Ceramic grade has around 85% to 96% of the CaF2. This commercial-grade is utilized in the manufacturing of ceramics and glasses. Its properties to withstand high temperature expands its applications in the production of cookware, specialty glass welding rod coatings, enamels, and labware. This fluorspar grade is also used to produce surface treatments. For instance, the cookware coating made from Teflon is derived from fluorite. Moreover, it is also utilized to make the product durable.
3 Factors Driving the Growth of the Market
Car manufacturers are utilizing aluminum as it’s lighter than steel and iron. Fluorspar is the key component used in the manufacturing of hydrofluoric acid which is utilized for the production of aluminum. The rising disposable income and the growing population has surged the demand for cars across the globe.
Besides this, the electrification of the automotive industry has increased the production of lithium batteries. This, in turn, has surged the usage of fluoropolymers which is propelling the growth of the market. According to the research by DataIntelo, the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 20% during the forecast period. This bestows a lucrative opportunity for the new entrants or the emerging players in the market.
Coronavirus hit: This pandemic has tremendously hit the manufacturing of the automakers. As consumers are bound to stay home, car sales have slowed down. However, the economy is recovering and car sales are also witnessing a surge across the globe. According to the note published on CNN, the vehicle sales will jump by 20% in 2020 and will take “several years to recapture 2019 levels.”
Rapid Infrastructure Development
State government bodies are heavily investing in the development of the infrastructure. The rapid urbanization and modernization have augmented the growth of the construction industry. Fluorspar is used in the production of cement, iron, and steel which is eventually fostering the growth of the market. Moreover, the growing demand for opaque glasses in offices, hospitals, and housing infrastructure is spurring the fluorspar market.
Coronavirus hit: The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the manufacturing industry and hugely impacted the distribution cycle across the globe. Until March 2020, various foundries called for the closedown which halted the construction activities. Furthermore, it has hampered the mining activities which has delayed the availability of fluorite.
Growing Demand for Hydrofluoric Acid
According to the research, the hydrofluoric acid market is anticipated to grow at a healthy rate of at least 5% during the forecast period 2020-2027. Hydrofluoric acid is used in the production of fluorocarbons, fluorides, and fluoropolymers, and fluorosurfactants. Amongst all, fluorides are used in the manufacturing of aluminum while fluorocarbons are used for the production of refrigerants. The rising demand for hydrofluoric acid for oil refining, glass etching, metal pickling, and uranium fuel production is fostering the fluorspar market growth.
Coronavirus hit: Even though the coronavirus pandemic has hit the manufacturing and distribution sector of hydrofluoric acid; however, it is recovering at a spectacular space owing to the deployment of advanced manufacturing machines.
Major Challenges Faced in the Market
The environmental implication of fluorite mining has persuaded the countries to take crucial steps to protect the environment. Moreover, the production of fluoride compounds and the disposal of the same has raised questions on the safety. This, in turn, has forced the steel and aluminum industries to look for cheaper alternatives.
Fluorspar Market Price Trend 2020
The growing stringent policies regarding the mining of fluorite has surged the price of the mineral across the globe. Moreover, hydrofluoric acid which is a corrosive chemical has come under the scrutiny of environmental lawmakers.
Currently, fluorspar price is approximately in the range of USD 380-430 per ton. The prices for metaspar and acidspar has witnessed a significant surge in 2018-2019. This trend is expected to have control at a steady if enough production facilities are built across the globe.
Currently, China accounts for more than 50 % of fluorspar consumption. However, the trade tension between China and other countries has encouraged others to increase the manufacturing facilities. This is expected to control the change in the price trend in the foreseeable future.
4 Leading Companies & Their Developments in the Fluorspar Market
Industry players are engaging in partnerships, collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions to expand their market share. They’re ensuring that the latest manufacturing technologies are deployed to reduce the operating costs and improve their profit margins.
The company has become a prominent supplier of refrigerant across the globe. To improve its market position, it acquired fluorspar producer Flourita de Mexico and the mine concessions of Las Sabinas. The mine added more than 13 million tons of reserves to its existing 50 million tons of reserves. It has also planned to invest over USD 11.6 Million to modernize its activities and capacity.
In September 2019, Mexichem Fluor, subsidiary of Orbia Advance Corporation, changed its name to Koura. The company launched Klea 448A, an energy-efficient, low GWP (global warming potential), and an alternative to R-404A.
The world’s second-largest aluminum producer has run various environmental modernization programs to reduce the adverse impacts on the environment. RUSAL manufactures aluminum which is used in the transport, electrical, and construction industry. It produces high-quality aluminum that is utilized in hard drivers and capacitor foils. Moreover, it manufactures aluminum that is used to produce automotive components, wheels, engines, and body parts, among others.
RUSAL bought 50% of the fluorspar supplier Yaroslavsk which is owned by Russian mining. In October 2020, the company committed to completely switch the reduction area of the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter (KrAZ) to an eco-friendly pitch.
Canada Fluorspar Inc.
The Canadian company is owned by Golden Gate Capital and is planning to develop the St. Lawrence Fluorspar Project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Canada Fluorspar Inc. is expected to mine high-quality fluorspar ore from the AGS Vein, convert into concentrate, and export it to domestic and international markets.
According to the company’s website, the first year of the project will focus on the ramp-up and commissioning of the mill. Further, the production will increase it to the annual production of 200,000 tons of acid-grade concentrate. Canada Fluorspar Inc. has been also engaged in improving the safety of the workers and also developing a “Fishery Offset Plan” to reduce the effects due to the project.
The European company has been producing fluorspar for more than 70 years in Spain. Minersa holds the reputation for the largest customer base in acid grade fluorspar. The company claims to be the second-largest producer of acid grade fluorspar. It has partnered with Vergenoeg Mining to supply acid and metallurgical grade of fluorspar. Derivados del Fluor, a subsidiary of Minersa Group also produces refrigerants, aluminum, and inorganic fluorochemicals, among others.
Other prominent companies include Seaforth Mineral & Core Co., Sallies Limited, Zhejiang Yingpeng Chemical Ltd, China Kings Resources Co., Ltd, Kenya Fluorspar Company Ltd, and Moodie Mineral Company, among others.
Various companies are investing in the fluorspar market owing to high ROI. For instance, the France-based company Arkema is investing USD 150 Million in a 40,000 ton/year anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) production in Aurora, North Carolina. The company has entered into a long term partnership with Nutrien Ltd. for the supply of AHF.
In October 2020, Ares Strategic Mining received approval from U.S. regulators to commence mining and environmental permit for its Lost Sheep fluorspar project in Utah.
According to the research, North America accounts for 25% of the fluorspar market share. The number is expected to rise at a steady rate in the forecast period. Countries such as the US, Mexico, and Canada are contributing a larger share in the growth of the market region. Fluorspar is named under the critical mineral list in the U.S. This has tightened the price index of the mineral in the market.
The rising disposable income, rapid urbanization, and modernization have surged the construction activities and manufacturing of cars. This has increased the demand for fluorspar in the domestic market. Mexico was the dominant exporter of acidspar in 2018 while the U.S. was one of the biggest importers of the same and is expected to continue in the forecast period.
The emerging economies such as India and China are witnessing exponential growth in the increased production of cars, development of infrastructure, and others. Furthermore, the country’s initiatives to increase home ground manufacturing activities has augmented the demand for fluorspar in the market region. Currently, China is the largest importer of fluorspar in the world while countries such as India and China are witnessing robust demand for the same.
According to the data, China consumes around 67% of the global fluorspar production while only has 13% of the global reserves. As of now, Pakistan, Myanmar, Zambia, and Thailand are some new countries that have become the new hotspots in the Asia Pacific region.
Europe is expected to account for more than 15% of the total market share. Countries such as Germany, France, and Italy are anticipated to drive the growth of the market. The rapid rise in the construction has surged the demand for steel while being the hub for automakers, the growing demand for aluminum is propelling the market growth.
Middle East & Africa and Latin America
These two regions have the potential to become one of the biggest importers of fluorspar in the market. The growing demand for hydrofluoric acid from the end-user industries such as automobiles, packaging, electronic products, and packaging, among others is driving the growth of these market regions.
Based on the type, the market is segmented into acidspar, metaspar, and ceramic grade. In 2019, acidspar accounted for the largest market share and is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. On the basis of application, the market is divided into aluminum production, steel production, and hydrofluoric acid. In 2019, hydrofluoric acid production dominated the segment and is anticipated to account for a larger segment in the forecast period. Moreover, aluminum production is predicted to expand at a higher CAGR in the foreseeable future.