Despite a decline in world fluorspar demand in 2016 owing to weak demand particularly for metallurgical-grade material, the outlook remains strong for fluorine in the steel, aluminium, and fluoropolymer markets as prices firm during 2017.


This was the essence of a review of the fluorspar market by Peter Huxtable, Huxtable Associates, UK published in Mining Engineering, July 2017.

“Despite the continued sluggish world growth, demand and acidspar prices are expected to increase in 2017 due to lower overhanging stocks and production and supply in better balance.” said Huxtable.

However, there remain some environmental concerns for fluorine products in the chemical sector, through the restricted use of certain fluorine compounds owing to their global warming potential.

There is some threat of the use of non-fluorine containing compounds, for example in certain automobile air conditioning units, although the agreed acceptance of an alternative fluorine compound will maintain demand to some extent in other applications.

Huxtable is co-authoring a paper “Fluorspar supply to 2018 and beyond” at Fluorine Forum 2017, San Luis Potosi, Mexico 30 October-2 November 2017, where all the key issues influencing the fluorine market will be discussed along with a visit to the world’s largest fluorspar producer Mexichem.

“World fluorspar markets have been on a roller coaster in recent years — strong demand and high prices leading up to the 2008-2009 recession, a major slump during the recession, a strong rebound in 2011- 2012, but then a steady fall-back since.” said Huxtable.

With prices recovering in 2017 and a healthy outlook in certain sectors, the industry could be ripe for another rebound.

Supply trends: closures and newcomers

Prices fell in 2016 owing to overcapacity exacerbated by the new acidspar output since late 2014 from Vietnam (2016 year-end Chinese fluorspar was at US$260-270/tonne, which has since risen sharply, and according to some reports by 30-40%).

Elsewhere, last year saw mine closures in Bulgaria and Kenya, while others reduced output, notably Mexico and Mongolia down to around 50% of more recent output rates this year.

2016 saw world production output drop to 5.68m tonnes in total. The new by-product output from the Masan Nui Phao tungsten operation in Vietnam remained close to the design output of 200,000 tpa.