Mount Muambe hosts an inferred fluorite resource
Fluorite (commercial term fluorspar) is a transparent halide mineral of various colours, composed of Calcium fluoride (CaF2). Fluorite occurs in carbonatites and alkaline intrusive rocks, as an accessory mineral in granites and pegmatites, around fumaroles and as a cement in sandstones. It is a widely occurring mineral and is common in hydrothermal deposits as veins.
World Reserves and Production
World reserves of fluorite are estimated at 240Mt (2011): the largest reserves are located in South Africa (41Mt), Mexico (32Mt) and China (24Mt). World production in 2011 was 6.2Mt, with China as the largest producer of fluorite (3.3Mt), followed by Mexico (1.1Mt).
Las Cuevas (Mexico): Las Cuevas is the largest fluorite mine in the world, hosting the richest known fluorite resource. The deposit is hydrothermal/epithermal in origin, with various ore bodies grading 73-95% CaF2. Production is 420,000tpa of metallurgical grade and 580,000tpa of acid grade concentrate.
Vergenoeg (South Africa): Vergenoeg is a hematite-fluorite deposit with an approximate grade of 28% CaF2. Production in 2009 was 150,000tpa obtained on a 70% recovery.
Okorusu (Nambia): The Okorusu deposit is associated with a carbonatite ring dike complex and has a grade of 30-40% CaF2. 2008 production was 120,000tpa, with a final product of 97% pure acid grade fluorspar.
There are two types of fluorspar for industrial use, corresponding to the product’s purity. Two thirds of world production is for acid grade fluorspar (<97% CaF2), which is used to manufacture hydrofluoric acid (HF), a feedstock for many different chemical processes. The remaining one third of production is for metallurgical grade fluorspar (<97% CaF2), used for flux in steel production, and in the manufacture of ceramics and enamels.
The majority of fluorspar is traded on annual contracts and only small amounts are sold on the open market. The market for fluorspar has seen greater fluctuations than most industrial minerals and is closely associated with demand for hydrofluoric acid, chemicals, aluminium and steel. After remaining relatively constant for many years, fluorspar prices rose rapidly in 2007-2009, principally due to a tightening of supply resulting from increased consumption within China and implementation of restrictive export quotas. 2009 saw a rapid decrease prices due to weakened demand from the flurochemical sector. However, continuing demand from emerging economies and decreasing supply form China continues to elevate prices.