Tertiary Minerals (LON:TYM) is the UK’s only public traded fluorspar company – a mineral the firm describes as “strategic”.
The AIM group has three fluorspar assets – the Storuman property in Sweden and the Lassedalen project in Norway.
It also controls the large MB deposit in Nevada USA which has been its main focus has been in recent months.
Fluorspar is the mineral form of calcium fluoride – CaF2 – and it has many applications.
When mined it is separated into two main grades – Acidspar is at least 97% calcium fluoride while metspar (metallurgical spar) is a much lower purity – at between 60% and 85%.
The latter is used for iron smelting and to manufacture glass steel enamels and aluminium products while acidspar is generally converted to hydrofluoric acid by combining it with sulfuric acid.
This can then be made it into other things like fluorocarbons which are used in Teflon (the stuff your frying pan is coated with) fridges freezers and air conditioning units.
It is perhaps worth noting that new environmentally friendly refrigerants required by regulation contain more fluorine than the older ozone depleting ones.
Global demand for fluorspar is between 6 and 6.5mln tonnes a year according to Tertiary with Acidspar the most in demand of the two – at around 3.8 million tonnes a year.
China produces more than half of all fluorspar production but exports have continued to decline as the People’s Republic has developed and needed to use its own source.
It’s classed as a ‘critical’ raw material by the European Commission and outside China Western Europe Canada and the USA (which imports 100% of what it needs) are the largest acid-spar consumers importing more than 900000 tonnes a year.
So junior Tertiary is poised to capitalise on this opportunity. At the MB project which covers 2800 acres and 146 claims near the US Highway 50 the group’s latest drilling programme has increased the already large deposit’s size.
And in 2016 the firm aims to focus on metallurgical testing economic modelling a scoping study and mine permit planning.
The project alady houses 6.1mln tonnes at 10.8% fluorspar in the higher confidence indicated category and 80.3 million tonnes of inferred grading 10.7% at a 9% cut-off.
Meanwhile at the Storuman site it is expecting a positive decision ‘shortly’ on its mining permit application. The project so far has a total JORC resource of nearly 28mln tonnes at 10.21%.
Lassedalen although on the sidelines and effectively on care and maintenance for some times as the firm focuses on the US and Sweden has a 4mln tonne resources (grading 25 per cent fluorspar) and a scoping study previously has shown enough for nearly seven years of mining.
All this development takes cash in a difficult climate for junior miners but the firm has managed to consistently arrange fairly small fundraisings along the way.
In October last year it raised 650000 through a placing at 2.25p per share to continue evaluating these key projects.
Shares stand at 1.15p each valuing the firm at around 3mln.