Fluorspar supply for refrigerants – is relief in sight?

While the F-gas phase down has had a specific marked effect on European HFC refrigerant prices, global prices are most affected by the price of the mineral fluorspar.

Fluorspar is the commercial name for the mineral fluorite (calcium fluoride), and is the basic feedstock for all fluorine-based chemicals.

Without fluorspar, you can’t make hydrofluoric acid (HF), and without HF, you can’t make the extensive range of fluorochemicals that are required for many industrial and domestic applications, including the vital compounds used in refrigeration and air conditioning gases.

However, there are relatively few commercially developed fluorspar sources worldwide, and the largest producing country is now facing cutbacks, while new suppliers have been facing delays in start-up. Tightness in supply and high prices have continued from 2018 into 2019, with 2020 looking to do the same unless more capacity emerges. China remains the world’s top fluorspar producer, accounting for around 60% of total world output of 5.8 million tonnes in 2018, followed by Mexico, South Africa, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Spain.

Will the likes of Chemours, Daikin, Honeywell, and Arkema be able to secure adequate supplies of fluorspar?

Read more in the article by Mike O’Driscoll, director and co-founder of IMFORMED, the networking and market research platform for the global non-metallic minerals industry.