While many of us have never heard of fluorspar, the global market for the now critical mineral jumped 5.5% in 2018 and is poised to gain even more ground in 2020.
IndexBox published “World Fluorspar – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends, and Insights,” which shows fluorspar as a $1.6 billion market in 2018. Also, in 2018, the U.S. government declared fluorspar (also known as fluorite) and other minerals as strategic and critical materials.
Mining and resource companies have taken note of the opportunity. Leaders in this group include prominent miners DuPont (NYSE:DD), United Company RUSAL Plc (RUAL.ME), and Arkema S.A. (OTC: ARKAY).
Junior miner Ares Strategic Mining Ltd. is a resource company looking at bringing active domestic US Fluorspar into production within twelve months’ time. Ares Strategic Mining’s (TSXV: ARS) (OTC: ARSMF) recently acquired Lost Sheep Fluorspar Project is located in the Spor Mountain area, Juab County, Utah, approximately 133 miles south-west of Salt Lake City. The site is not only fully permitted but importantly has a NI 43-101 Technical Report that has identified extensive high-grade fluorspar.
Ares Mining’s Lost Sheep Mine is the only fully permitted and producing fluorspar source in the United States and holds the highest naturally occurring fluorspar-grade in the country with very few impurities. This puts Ares’ Lost Sheep project in high ranking in the fluorspar market.
Market Data Overview
Experts forecast fluorspar’s global market to slowly grow. The global market peaked in 2012 when it hit $2.7 billion. From then until 2018, the market stayed flat.
Chinese consumers use 3.4 million tonnes of fluorspar, which is about 54% of the world’s supply. Chinese consumption vastly exceeded the second-largest user, which was the U.S. Americans used only 453K tonnes of fluorspar. India came in third place, consuming 346K tonnes, which represents less than 4% of the world’s supply.
China and India each increased their fluorspar consumption from 2007 to 2018. China’s annual volume rose by about 2% each year and India’s by about 4.6%. In the U.S., consumption dropped 2.6% per year.
It’s only logical that China lead the market in value. The Chinese fluorspar market is valued at $856 million.
The countries with the highest levels of fluorspar per capita consumption in 2018 were Tunisia (8,691 kg per 1000 persons), Kazakhstan (5,441 kg per 1000 persons) and Italy (2,966 kg per 1000 persons).
Junior Companies Could Provide Answers for Fluorspar
With operation in the United States, Ares Strategic Mining Ltd., is poised to take advantage of rising demand and prices for fluorspar with domestic operations. In February, Ares acquired the Lost Sheep Mine project, which experts believe has the potential to produce Acidspar, a more expensive, higher grade of fluorspar than is available in other parts of the world.
Acidspar is a key ingredient in refrigerants, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and lithium-ion batteries among other things. Because Acidspar is versatile enough for many different industries, it makes up about two thirds of the U.S. fluorspar market. The versatility of Acidspar also allows it to command a higher price than lower-grade substances.
Although assays are still to come, the company has already sunk 12 holes totaling 900 meters to delineate a previous target area on the project. Another five-hole, 300-metre exploration program revealed visible fluorspar in three holes.
The company also has recently upgraded its naturally occurring fluorspar to the highest grade possible, opening up a much larger market and the possibility of greater profit margins for Ares.
Other Data Covered in the Report
The Word Fluorspar Report also covers production of fluorspar through 2018. In that year, roughly 6.4 million metric tons of fluorspar were produced worldwide; surging by 4.8% against the previous year. However, in general, fluorspar production increases have been on a relatively flat plain.
Overall, rising demand for fluorspar worldwide is expected to start an upward consumption trend over the next decade. The report expects performance of the market to increase slightly, with an anticipated CAGR of +1.0% for the period from 2018 to 2030. That would mean a projected market volume of 7 million metric tons by the end of 2030.
Mining companies that can move to add to their strategic minerals prospects, including fluorspar, could be the biggest gainers in the sector including:
DuPont de Nemours, Inc. provides technology-based materials, ingredients, and solutions in the United States, Canada, the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In support of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while driving sustainable innovation, DuPont™ has announced the phased launch of a new, reduced global warming potential (GWP) Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation.
United Company RUSAL Plc produces and sells aluminum and related products. It operates through four segments: Aluminum, Alumina, Energy, and Mining and Metals. The company recently announced it has approved a new long-term aluminum supply contract with Glencore worth up to $16.3 billion, according to a regulatory statement.
Arkema S.A. manufactures and sells specialty chemicals and advanced materials worldwide. It operates in three segments: High Performance Materials, Industrial Specialties, and Coating Solutions. The company has announced that it will renew its contract with and SUEZ (Paris, France) for the next three years, for a total of €38 million revenue. This partnership will ensure Arkema’s business continuity and contribute to its economic and environmental performance.
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