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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

Wood, H. B.
Fluorspar and cryolite,   pp. 535-551 ff. PDF (1.9 MB)

Page 535

  535Fluorspar and Cryolite 
By H. B. Wood' 
 World supply of fluorspar improved greatly during 1972. At yearend U.S.
consumers found no shortage of either acidgrade (acid-spar) or metallurgical-grade
(met-spar) fluorspar. In fact, additional supplies were readily available
from Mexico and the Republic of South Africa. 
 Although prices in 1972 reached an alltime high, some new 1973 contracts
showed lower prices. However, no significant reduction in price is anticipated
in the near future. Devaluation of the dollar and adjustments in foreign
exchange rates also tended to cause higher prices. 
 During the last 3 to 4 years, accelerated exploration has been inspired
by rising prices. As a result many new discoveries or mine expansions were
made in Mexico, Thailand, the Republic of South Africa, and even in the United
States. New fluorspar deposits started to come into production by yearend.
 Overall consumption of fluorspar in the United States showed little change
compared with 1971. In 1972 the United States consumed 1,352,000 short tons
or about 26% of the estimated world supply while only producing 250,000 tons
or a'bout 5% of the estimated world supply. In other words, only 18% of US.
consumption was indigenously produced. Demand for fluorspar in the steel,
' chemical, and aluminum industries continued strong. Combined, these industries
consumed over 90% of the US. total. The rest was consumed by the ceramic,
glass, cement, nuclear reactor, and oil industries. Notable growth in consumption
is anticipated in the uranium industry to produce uranium tetrafluoride,
and in the oil industry as a catalyst. Less acidspar was used by aluminum
companies which recycled more waste fluoride compounds. In addition, fluorine
from fluosilicic acid (H2SiF6), a byproduct recovered during phosphoric acid
manufacture, was 
processed to make cryolite and aluminum fluoride for use in primary aluminum
production. In 1972 this new supply was equivalent to the amount of fluorine
obtainable from about 55,000 tons of acidspar. 
 Legislation and Government Programs. 
—As of December 31, 1972, Government stockpiles included 921,826 tons
of acidspar, with 350,000 tons of acid-spar credited as 438,000 tons of met-spar
towards the met-spar objective. Government stockpiles als6 included 411,788
tons of met-spar. The percentage depletion allowance rates established in
1969 remained the same; domestic 22% and foreign 14%. 
 The Office of Minerals Exploration, U.S. 
Geological Survey, in September 1972 executed a fluorspar exploration contract
Hicks Dome Account of New York City. 
Exploration started in 1972 on the Hicks 
Dome prospect in Hardin County, Ill. 
 ' During 1972 no action was taken on 
Congressional Bills H.R. 11696, HR. 11735, 
HR. 11767, and H.R. 11976, which in 1971 
had been introduced into the U.S. Congress to suspend the current import
on fluorspar until January 1, 1974. 
 Total U.S. production of fluorspar decreased 8% from 272,000 tons in 1971
to 250,000 tons in 1972. A softening in the demand for acid-grade fluorspar
during the second half of 1972 probably caused the closing down of Minerva
Oil Co.'s old Crystal Mill at Cave-In-Rock, Ill., and the reduced production
from the Calvert City Chemical Co.'s plant near Mexico, Ky. 
 The Illinois fluorspar mining district, consisting of Hardin and Pope Counties
in southern Illinois, continued as the principal source of domestic fluorspar
in 1972 
1 Geologist, Division of Nonmetallic Minerals. 

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