When China produces over half of a critical mineral's world supply, the world has a potential problem. But investors have a potential opportunity. Those are among the topics to be discussed at Vancouver's October 22 Fluorspar Pre-Conference Workshop. The three-hour event will link investors with experts and companies who pursue this vital commodity.
The free workshop kicks off Industrial Minerals' Fluorspar 2012 conference, which brings the world's producers and consumers to Vancouver. The annual event has been touring the globe since 2001.
With increasingly widespread interest, says Industrial Minerals Data Manager Simon Moores. Even so, fluorspar is little known to investors. Yet it's used to produce aluminum, steel, concrete, uranium, gasoline and hydrofluoric acid, which is essential to producing fluorocarbons. Fluorocarbons, in turn, are necessary for aerosols and refrigerants. In most of its applications, fluorspar is irreplaceable.
While the mineral is new to most investors, the supply-demand scenario will sound familiar. China produces the bulk of global supply. Dwindling reserves, a 15% export tax and increasing demand have pushed prices way up, from $130 a tonne for acid-grade fluorspar in 2003 to a range of $550 to $600 a tonne last month. As a result, the search is on for sources outside China. There are no producing fluorspar mines in Canada or the U.S.
Monday's Fluorspar Pre-Conference Workshop will bring some of those companies to an investor audience, along with two expert speakers. Simon Moores, a writer with the authoritative journal Industrial Minerals, says he'll provide "introductory, basic information that investors would need. We'll look at where the bulk of the supply comes from, we'll look at demand and the outlook for next year. We'll also look at how the space is structured.
"That's a key aspect," he adds. "Fluorspar is not just sold as fluorspar, it's sold as acidspar or acid grade, and metspar or metallurgical grade. They have two different market dynamics. So we'll look at price trends in these two separate industries. I'll be speaking to people who are new to the industry and give them the basics, the most important things they need to know."
The second expert speaker will be Jon Hykawy, Head of Global Research, Clean Technologies and Materials Analyst at Byron Capital Markets. He's well versed in introducing essential commodities to investors. "When we started looking at lithium three and a half years ago, most people didn't even know what it was. We had to do almost 200 one-on-one meetings with clients to tell them what lithium was, what the market dynamics were and what sort of a space we were in. I'd see much the same thing to educate the market on fluorspar. But that's not work we're shy about doing."
He adds, "There are enough companies out there to help, between Canada's potential producers, so it should be an area of interest to investors."
One of those companies is Prima Fluorspar Corp. President/CEO Robert Bick will discuss the Liard Fluorspar Property along the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia. The 22,500-hectare project has an historic, non-43-101 resource estimate of 3.2 million tonnes averaging 32% fluorspar. The company believes the deposit remains open at depth and along strike for several kilometres, with open pit potential.
Prima Fluorspar is a holding of Zimtu Capital Corp (ZTMUF). Last month Prima announced an agreement in which Camisha Resources Corp. would acquire 100% of Prima. Subject to shareholder approval on November 26, and to regulatory approval and financing, the combined company will begin trading as Prima Fluorspar Corp. Its next goal will be a completed PEA by Q4 2013.
Another presenter will be Canada Fluorspar Inc. (OTC:CNDFF) President/CEO Lindsay Gorrill, whose company holds a 50/50 joint venture with industrial chemicals giant Arkema Inc on the St. Lawrence Fluorspar Project in Newfoundland. With two past-producing underground mines on site, the project plans include mill expansion, a new tailings facility and a deep-water port.
An updated pre-feasibility report is scheduled for Q4 2012 or Q1 2013. Canada Fluorspar is also drilling additional veins nearby.
Following the presentations, workshop attendees can speak with keynote speakers and company representatives. This is an early opportunity to learn from experts and scrutinize companies in an area of burgeoning interest.
The Fluorspar Pre-Conference Workshop takes place October 22, from 2 to 5 p.m., at Vancouver's Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.