Fluorite, also known as fluorspar, is the crystal of calcium fluoride (CaF2) and the main source of chemical fluorine. Fluorite is a world-class scarce resource similar to rare earth. China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries all list fluorite as a “strategic mineral” or “key mineral”, and the United States lists fluorite as a “crisis mineral”.
Application status of fluorite
Fluorite is the starting point of the fluorine chemical industry chain. As an important mineral raw material for modern industry, it is mainly used in strategic emerging industries such as new energy and new materials, as well as in the fields of national defense, military, nuclear industry, etc. It is also an important raw material for traditional chemical, metallurgy, building materials, optics and other industries. Alternative strategic positions.
The use of fluorite often depends on the calcium fluoride content in it, and is divided into three categories according to grade: acid-grade fluorspar, metallurgical-grade fluorspar, and ceramic-grade fluorspar. From the analysis of application fields, fluorite is mainly used in fluorine chemical industry, metallurgical industry, glass industry, cement industry, ceramic industry, etc.
(1) Fluorine chemical
The fluorine chemical industry is based on the production of hydrofluoric acid, and can be divided into inorganic fluorine chemicals and organic fluorine chemicals according to the application fields of its end products. Inorganic fluorine chemicals are mainly used in fluorine-containing electronic chemicals, fluorine-containing special gases, other inorganic fluorides, etc. The products are widely used in semiconductor manufacturing, battery materials, optical materials, insulating gases and other fields. Organic fluorine chemicals are mainly used to produce fluorocarbon products, fluorine-containing polymers, and organic fluorine-containing chemicals. The products are used in refrigerants, foaming agents, fluorine oils, medicines, pesticides, liquid crystals, ion exchange membranes, and semiconductor manufacturing. and other fields.
(2) Metallurgical industry
Fluorite has the characteristics of reducing the melting point of refractory substances, promoting the flow of slag, making the slag and metal well separated, desulfurizing and dephosphorizing in the smelting process, and enhancing the calcinability and tensile strength of metal. Therefore, it is widely used as a flux in iron and steel smelting and ferroalloy production, iron chemical process and non-ferrous metal smelting.
(3) Glass industry
In the glass industry, fluorite is added as a flux and opacifier, which can promote the melting of glass raw materials.
(4) Cement industry
In cement production, fluorite is added as a mineralizer, which can reduce the sintering temperature of the charge, reduce fuel consumption, and at the same time increase the liquid viscosity of clinker during sintering, and promote the formation of tricalcium silicate.
(5) Ceramic industry
In the ceramic industry, fluorite is mainly used as enamel, and it can play a role in color and flux in the production process of enamel. For example, fluorite can be bright and bright after adding fluorite to red enamel. In addition, fluorite is also used in enamel industry and cast stone production.
(6) Optical industry
Since fluorite is a light homogeneous body, infrared and ultraviolet rays have good permeability to it. Therefore, fluorite is an ideal optical material for apochromatic lenses, such as optical objective lenses and materials that radiate ultraviolet and infrared rays.
At present, in the downstream demand of fluorite, the consumption of fluorine chemical industry, iron and steel industry, aluminum smelting industry, and other industries (such as glass, glass fiber, cement, ceramic industry) accounts for 52%, 25%, 18% and 5% respectively. . In recent years, my country’s fluorite consumption has changed significantly from traditional consumption such as cement and glass industry and metallurgical industry to fluorine chemical industry, and it has always ranked first in the world in terms of scale output.
Future Fluorite Resource Demand Situation
In traditional building materials, metallurgy and other industries, the demand for fluorite has exceeded the peak and began to decline or stabilize. The fluorine chemical industry, which is closely related to emerging industries, has become the key to leading the demand for fluorite in my country.
At present, my country’s fluorine chemical industry is in the process of transforming and upgrading from primary fluorine chemical products such as hydrofluoric acid to fluorine-containing fine chemical products. The downstream traditional refrigerant demand is stable, and with the strategic emerging of new energy and new materials With the sudden emergence of the industry, the downstream automobile, electronics, light industry, new energy, environmental protection, aerospace and other related industries have an urgent market demand for high value-added, high-performance fluoropolymers and new refrigerants. There is a large development space for fluorine-containing fine chemicals, especially the demand for fluorite in new energy fields such as fluorine-containing lithium battery materials, PVDF, semiconductors, photovoltaic panels, etc. will likely grow rapidly.
1. Lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) significantly boosts the demand for fluorite
Lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) is the main raw material for the manufacture of lithium-ion battery electrolytes. Because of its good ionic conductivity and electrochemical stability, it is currently the most commonly used electrolyte lithium salt, mainly used in lithium-ion energy storage batteries and other daily batteries. , the development and utilization prospects are broad.
In recent years, Jinshi Resources has made full use of the company’s fluorite resource reserves and raw material cost advantages, further implemented the “mining-selection-deep processing” integration and industrial chain extension development strategy, expanded the company’s business development space, and plans to gradually enter the downstream technology content of the industrial chain. New energy and new materials with high added value. As a key step in implementing the industrial chain extension plan, the company announced in 2021 that it will invest in the construction of a new energy lithium battery material with an annual output of 25,000 tons and a supporting 80,000-ton/year fluorite project in Jiangshan Economic Development Zone, Zhejiang Province. The total investment of the project is about 1.55 billion yuan.
2. Spherical graphite anode has a significant demand for fluorite
Spherical graphite material has the characteristics of good electrical conductivity, low cost, high theoretical lithium intercalation capacity, low and flat charge and discharge potential, etc., and is an important part of the negative electrode material of lithium ion battery. In the production of spherical graphite, hydrofluoric acid is mostly used to react with impurities in graphite to generate water-soluble fluoride and volatiles to achieve the purpose of purification. With the rapid development of emerging industries such as new energy vehicles and energy storage, it will drive lithium batteries, which in turn will drive the demand for graphite anodes and hydrofluoric acid.
3. Photovoltaic-grade electronic hydrofluoric acid has significantly driven the demand for fluorite
As a kind of fluorine fine chemicals, electronic grade hydrofluoric acid is highly corrosive and is mainly used to remove oxides. It is one of the most widely used electronic chemicals in the semiconductor manufacturing process and is widely used in integrated circuits, solar photovoltaics and liquid crystal displays. screen and other fields. Photovoltaic grade electronic hydrofluoric acid is mainly used in process engineering such as texturing and cleaning of solar cells. With the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry, the demand for photovoltaic-grade electronic hydrofluoric acid is also increasing.
4. Fluoropolymers: Large-scale application is ready, or will drive the resonance of the entire industry chain
Fluoropolymers have excellent chemical resistance, climate stability, low surface energy, low friction factor, and low dielectric constant. Due to these special chemical and physical properties, fluoropolymers are widely used in the chemical, electronic/electrical, construction and automotive industries.
In recent years, my country’s fluoropolymer industry has developed rapidly, and the market supply has maintained steady growth, from 432,000 tons in 2016 to 601,000 tons in 2020, with an average annual compound growth rate of about 8.6%. Fluoropolymers can be further subdivided into three categories: fluororesins, fluorocoatings and fluororubbers, with output accounting for 30%, 65% and 5% respectively.
Among them, there are a wide variety of fluororesin products, a wide range of applications, and the market scale is constantly expanding, from 5.54 billion yuan in 2016 to 10.26 billion yuan in 2020, with an average annual compound growth rate of about 16.7%. my country’s fluororesin market has great potential for development, and it is expected to replace fluorine coatings to become the mainstream product in my country’s fluoropolymer market in the future.
Under the background of the accelerated upgrading of China’s industrial structure, the transfer of the global fluorine chemical industry chain to China, and the continuous breakthrough of high-end fluorine material technology, new fluorine-containing materials ushered in a historic development opportunity. From the perspective of scientific development, it is necessary to establish the concept of a national game of chess, break the restrictions of administrative regions, conduct comprehensive evaluations from the aspects of resource endowment, investment environment, industrial coordination, ecological environment, economic benefits, social development, etc., and reasonably consider the fluorite resources of neighboring countries. Based on the feasibility of supply guarantee, plan a reasonable regional distribution of resource supply to meet the development needs of a certain period, and guide the coordinated development of upstream and downstream industries.