GeoFile 2009-3: Fluorspar Market Review and Selected Fluorite Deposits in British Columbia, Canada (Roundup Poster)
View GeoFile 2009-3 (PDF, 1.9 MB)
Fluorspar is the commercial term for fluorite (CaF2). Fluorite contains 51.1% Ca and 48.9% F. Collector specimens occur as cubes and octahedrons. Typical fluorspar ores are massive, disseminations, or form layered crusts, globular and botroidal aggregates and cox-comb textures. Other sources of F are cryolite and phosphate rock. Cryolite (Na3AlF6) was historically mined in Greenland. Due to environmental pressure, F compounds are now recovered during the processing of sedimentary phosphates. Fluosilic acid (H2SiF6), used in water fluoridation, is one of these compounds. Strict environmental regulations suggest that this acid will be increasingly converted into Al- or Ca-fluorides, cryolite, or H. Phosphate rock reserves in the USA alone contain 370 million tonnes of F.
Fluorspar is used largely in the manufacturing of fluorocarbons for refrigerants, foam products, polytetrafluoroethylene (“Teflon”) and other fluoropolymers. Petroleum alkylation, glass, medical, agricultural and metallurgical uses also represent important markets. Demand for fluorspar in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers, including partially fluorinated polymers or copolymers is growing. Over 70% of fluorspar used in developed countries is transformed into HF products, while in developing countries over 65% of fluorite is used in steel-making. Fluorspar uses in USA are summarized on Figure 1. Aluminum fluoride (AlF3) and synthetic cryolite, derived largely from acid grade fluorspar, are the main F compounds used in aluminum (Al) smelting. The growth of this market is favoured by increasing demand for Al in the automotive industry, but it is counterbalanced by improvements in smelting technology, increased recycling of both, Al and F, and by increased use of AlF3 derived from fluosilic acid. Fluorspar products are sold to steel mills, cement plants, foundries, glass and ceramic plants, and welding rod manufacturers where they are used as fluxes.
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