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FLUORSPAR IN THE FIRST QUARTER 2020
FLUORSPAR IN THE FIRST QUARTER 2020
Fluorspar imports in the first quarter of 2020 were 94,400 metric tons (t), 78,600 t of which were acid grade and 15,800 t of which were metallurgical grade (fig. 1, table 1). The leading sources of acid-grade imports were Mexico (72%), Canada (14%), and South Africa (13%); Mexico accounted for nearly 100% of metallurgical-grade imports. Acid-grade imports decreased by 11% compared with imports in the previous quarter but increased slightly compared with those in the first quarter of 2019. Metallurgical-grade imports increased by 90% compared with imports in the previous quarter but decreased by 35% compared with those in the first quarter of 2019.
In the first quarter of 2020, imports of other fluorine-containing materials produced directly from fluorspar were 32,500 t for hydrofluoric acid, 5,020 t for aluminum fluoride, and 4,890 t for cryolite (table 1). Mexico was the leading supplier of hydrofluoric acid accounting for 91% of imports in the first quarter of 2020, comparable with import quantities in previous quarters (table 3). Exports of acid- and metallurgical grade fluorspar, aluminum fluoride, and cryolite were likely re-exports as there is no domestic production (table 1).
The quarterly average unit value of acid-grade imports from Canada and Mexico increased by 56% and 10%, respectively, to $405 per metric ton and $306 per metric ton compared with the 2019 annual average unit value. The quarterly average unit value of acid-grade imports from South Africa decreased by 44% to $250 per metric ton. The quarterly average value of metallurgical-grade imports from Mexico increased slightly to $281 per metric ton, compared with the 2019 annual average unit value (table 2).
The following is a discussion of prices from leading-exporting countries in the first quarter of 2020 according to Fastmarkets IM. The price of acid-grade fluorspar from China was $420 to $470 per metric ton, a 5% increase compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, but an 8% decrease compared with the first quarter of 2019 (table 4). The price of acid-grade fluorspar from Mexico was $350 to $420 per metric ton, a 7% decrease compared with the fourth quarter of 2019 and a 9% decrease compared with the first quarter of 2019. The price of acid-grade fluorspar from South Africa was $350 to $410 per metric ton, an 11% decrease compared with the fourth quarter of 2019 and an 18% decrease compared with the first quarter of 2019. The price of metallurgical-grade fluorspar from Mexico remained unchanged at $280 to $320 per metric ton.
Fluorochemical News The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy announced that Soulbrain Co., Ltd., a chemical company based in Gyeonggi Province, had developed the capability to manufacture enough high-purity hydrofluoric acid (HF) to meet most of the needs of its domestic semiconductor manufacturing industry. The country had been working to reduce its dependence on imported materials needed for the manufacture of semiconductors and displays after Japan imposed export restrictions on high-purity HF, fluorinated polyimides, and photoresists in 2019 (Kyoung-son, 2020).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an update on its 2019 Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan. The agency highlighted several actions it had taken in the past year to address PFAS contamination including, 1) issuing a preliminary determination to regulate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate(PFOS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2) issuing a supplemental proposal to ensure that the manufacture or import of new uses of long-chain PFAS in surface coatings would require review under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, 3) validating new methods to accurately test for 11 PFAS in drinking water, 4) issuing interim guidance for addressing PFOA- and (or) PFOS-contaminated groundwater in federal clean-up programs including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 5) issuing an advanced notice of rulemaking that would allow public input on adding PFAS to the Toxic Release Inventory toxic chemicals list, and 6) making available $4.8 million in funding for new research on managing PFAS in agriculture (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2020).