The price of fluorspar, a mineral from which the HFC component hydrofluoric acid is produced, has hit a four-year high in the home of the world’s largest producer, China. Huge increases in the price of a vital component in the production of HFCs could place further pressure on global refrigerant gas prices.
Fluorspar prices have risen by nearly 40 % since February, leading to increases in China of around 60 % in the price of R-22 and R-134a, a 130 % increase in the price HFC component R125, and a massive 160 % rise in the cost of R-32.
The increases are blamed on new environmental constraints in China on both fluorspar mining and in the production of hydrofluoric acid. Since the end of 2016 China’s environmental law enforcement efforts have been significantly strengthened. As a result, the production of products like hydrofluoric acid, a highly corrosive chemical, has come under new environmental protection and safety requirements.
With China supplying over 50 % of the world demand for fluorspar, the increases are likely to put further pressure on refrigerant prices, particularly in Europe where the HFC phase-down is already impacting high GWP gases.