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Sources and availability for fluorine chemistry
The two most important sources of fluorine are the minerals fluorite, commercially known as fluorspar, and fluorapatite, commercially known as phosphate rock.
The major consumers of fluorspar are the aluminum, chemical, and steel industries. Acid-grade fluorspar, one of three commercial grades, is used primarily to make hydrogen fluoride, which is then used to produce synthetic cryolite, aluminum fluoride, fluorocarbons, and other fluorochemicals. Elemental fluorine is prepared from anhydrous hydrogen fluoride by electrolysis. Fluosilicic acid is used primarily for water fluoridation but also to make aluminum fluoride and cryolite. Reported U.S. consumption of fluorspar was 753,000 tons in 1984. U.S. demand for fluorspar was projected to increase at an average annual rate of 2.7% between 1983 and 2000.
U.S. production of finished fluorspar in 1984 was 72,000 tons. Fluosilicic acid production was 61,000 tons or 107,000 tons as equivalent fluorspar. More than 85% of domestic demand was imported, primarily from Mexico and the Republic of South Africa.
A U.S. Bureau of Mines investigation of major fluorspar reserves and resources in market economy countries and China found approximately 900,000 tons of demonstrated and 1,200,000 tons of identified reserves in the United States. Total world demonstrated and identified reserves were 135 million tons and 262 million tons, respectively. The potential resources of fluosilicic acid were estimated at 12 million tons of equivalent fluorspar in the United States and 360 million tons for the total world. Fluorine reserves appear adequate through the year 2000 given current projections.