Ares Strategic Mining announced this week that it has entered into a strategic partnership with the Mujim Group, a fluorspar mining and distribution company.
The Mujim Group has agreed to invest time and expertise in assisting Ares at its fluorspar mine project in Utah, USA. After visiting Ares’ Lost Sheep mine, the Mujim Group invested in Ares and plans to assist with equipment selection, mining methods, processing techniques and the supply of expert fluorspar mining personnel, to help ensure Ares’ mine achieves its potential.
The company reports that the Lost Sheep fluorspar project, which is located in Juab County’s Spor Mountain area, approximately 214 km south-west of Salt Lake City, is fully permitted – including mining permits. A NI 43-101 Technical Report is available.
A major factor keeping world fluorspar prices elevated in 2019 and early 2020 has been the delay in bringing major new acidspar capacity to the market in the rest of the world (outside China). Canada Fluorspar opened the newly re-developed St. Lawrence mine in Newfoundland in August 2017; however, the first commercial shipments of acidspar were not reported until August 2018 and, as of early 2020, the facility was understood to be operating at only a fraction of its 185ktpy capacity. New acidspar mines in other regions have also been plagued by unforeseen delays in bringing their mines into production.
These new mines, as they ramp-up their production, will provide much needed relief to a fluorspar market which has been squeezed by restricted supply. However, Roskill anticipates that further capacity additions will be necessary, particularly for acidspar. It is uncertain whether a sizeable portion of the Chinese capacity which is believed to have been disrupted recently will be able to return to the market. Additionally, there are reports that China is facing the dual problem of declining ore-grades and a depletion of resources which are suitable for economical extraction. This suggests that Chinese fluorspar output, especially material available to the world market, may soon, or may have already, reached its peak.
Fluorspar is a critical raw material. It is used directly in steel production, in aluminium production in the form of aluminium fluoride. It is also the principal source of fluorine (via HF) for the fluorochemical industry, which encompasses the production of a wide range of important products from refrigerant gases to speciality polymers and chemicals used in the production of electronics, medicines and nuclear fuels. Many of these end use markets are large and mature, but fluorspar also finds application in smaller but rapidly growing markets, such as in the production of electrolytes for lithium ion batteries. Overall, Roskill is anticipating a healthy compound annual growth rate for fluorspar demand between 2019 and 2029, driven largely by high-value acidspar markets. The USA and Canada are import dependent and both depend heavily on Mexican supply.
Roskill’s NEW Fluorspar: Outlook to 2029, 14th Edition breaks down the complex fluorine supply chain considerations into clear forecasts, with price forecasts based on analysis of both international supply and demand.