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What is Fluorspar and Where Do I Use It?


  • Fluorspar is the commercial name for the mineral fluorite (calcium fluoride, CaF2). Fluorite is a colourful, widely occurring mineral that occurs globally with significant deposits in over 9,000 areas. 


  • Fluorspar is mainly used in steel and iron making, refrigeration and air conditioning, aluminium making, solid fluoropolymers for cookware and cable insulation, fluorochemicals, nuclear uranium fuel and in processes for oil refining.

  • There are two principal commercial grades of fluorspar: Metallurgical grade (60-96% CaF2) and acid grade (+97% CaF2).

  • Metallurgical grade fluorspar accounts for approximately 35-40% of total fluorspar production with the principal applications being in steel production and cement.

  • Acid grade fluorspar accounts for approximately 60-65% of total fluorspar production with the principal applications being in aluminium production and in the manufacturing of hydrofluoric acid (HF).


Where is Fluorspar Produced?


  • The global producers of fluorspar are China 55.5%, Mexico 20.5%, Mongolia 7.4%, Vietnam 3.4% and South Africa 3.1%. Global production in 2020 was 7.6 Mt.


Global market


  • Fluorspar is mined in over 20 countries. China is by far the largest mine producer of fluorspar, with an average annual production between 2016 and 2020 of more than 55% of global supply. 


  • Another major producing country is Mexico with roughly 20% of annual production. Mongolia has expanded its production greatly and is now the third most important fluorspar-mining country.


  • China has developed its own fluorine value chain and has increasing demand for fluorspar for domesticprocessing. Chinese environmental inspections since 2017 as well as winter production cuts have madeproduction more difficult and mine closures were prompted since 2017. This was compounded by the closure of several fluorspar mines around the world (e.g. Russia, Kenya, Namibia). Subsequently, prices in China rose rapidly in 2017. Fluorspar prices outside China increased significantly as supply disruptions in China hit international markets.


  • Since 2018 new mines have opened. Examples are Canada Fluorspar (Canada) and SepFluor (South Africa). In consequence, fluorspar production of these countries increased in 2019 and 2020. Production in Mexico and Mongolia has also expanded significantly since 2018/2019.


Specific Issues for Fluorspar


  • There are no net exporters of fluorspar in Europe and all EU Member States are reliant on imports.


  • In the iron and steel making sector substitutes exist but come with a loss of performance. Possible alternatives are calcium aluminate/chloride, aluminium smelting dross, borax, iron oxides, manganese ore, silica sand and titanium oxide (Tercero Espinoza, 2015). In electrolysis-based aluminium production, fluorspar cannot be substituted, but fluorspar-free carbothermic reduction processes are conceivable (Tercero Espinoza, 2015).



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