Fluorspar: Roskill finds industry buoyant at IM Fluorspar conference 2018

IM Fluorspar 2018 conference in South Africa saw insightful discussion on the new imbalance between supply and demand and possible future directions for the fluorspar and F-chain industry in South Africa, China and the Rest of World (ROW).

Fluorspar spot prices climbed to six-year highs in 2018. This was a dramatic turnaround; until February 2017, fluorspar prices had fluctuated around five-year lows during a long period of oversupply. 

China accounts for about 50% of world fluorspar production and sudden mine closures there since 2017, particularly in southeastern China, were prompted by environmental inspections and have disrupted the world supply/demand balance. 

The Johannesburg conference heard from new local fluorspar mine projects aiming to fill some of the supply gap, with Johan Brits of Sepfluor assuring delegates that “we are on track to finish the Nokeng project on time and on budget”. Thabane Zulu of the Government of South Africa supported South African producers, stressing that “minerals are a strategic national asset that the government of South Africa takes seriously”.

“It will be interesting to see how [the market] evolves in 2019,” Guillermo Gallegos, upstream business director of major Mexican producer Mexichem Fluor, said. “We expect that high-quality metspar supply will become tighter,” he added, “because no new significant metspar sources have been identified in recent years, and current global supply will have to satisfy both the increased import volumes sought by China and the stable to slightly higher needs of Western steel producers”.

Roskill view: Research in China undertaken in preparation for the new 2018 edition of the Roskill market report on fluorspar, suggests that Chinese fluorspar production fell by several hundred thousand tonnes in 2017. Following years of oversupply and depressed prices, the fluorspar industry therefore turned a corner in 2017. Fluorspar supplies over 90% of global demand for fluorine, the most reactive element in existence and has been identified as a strategic mineral by the Chinese Government, US Department of Interior and the European Union, as well as many other government agencies worldwide.

Roskill’s new Fluorspar: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook report will be published in November 2018 and includes forecasts for the world fluorspar market to 2022 and price forecasts based on analysis of future supply and demand. Roskill is next presenting its views on the fluorspar market at the IMFORMED Fluorine Forum 2018 event in Madrid, Spain in October 2018.

To discuss the fluorspar market with Roskill or to request copies of Roskill presentations, contact Kerry Satterthwaite: kerry@roskill.com