Relevance: GS-3 Indian Economy, Budget 2023
Facts About Fluorite:
- Fluorite is a popular mineral that naturally occurs in all colors of the spectrum.
- Its colors are caused by impurities, with pure fluorite being colorless.
- Fluorite is deposited by hydrothermal solutions from igneous intrusions and can form veins or replacement deposits.
- Synthetic fluorite can also be obtained as a by-product of uranium processing, petroleum alkylation, and stainless pickling.
- By state, Gujarat has the largest reserves (66%) of fluorite, followed by Rajasthan (29%), Chhattisgarh (3%), and Maharashtra (2%).
Facts About Fluorite Grades:
- Two grades of fluorite are involved in consumption and trade: acid grade (acidspar) and sub-acid grade.
- Acid grade contains more than 97% CaF2.
- Sub-acid grade analyzes 97% or less CaF2 and includes Metallurgical (60 to 85% CaF2) and Ceramic (85 to 95% CaF2) grades.
- Sub-acid grade is commonly known as Metallurgical grade (metspar).
Facts and Examples About Fluorite Uses:
- Feedstock in the Manufacture of Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) and Aluminum Fluoride (AlF3):
- Acid grade fluorite is used as a raw material in the production of hydrofluoric acid and aluminum fluoride.
- Production of Fluorocarbon Chemicals:
- Hydrofluoric acid is used in the production of a wide range of fluorocarbon chemicals, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and fluoropolymers.
- HFCs are used as refrigerants in air conditioning systems, HCFCs are used as solvents, blowing agents, and fire-extinguishing agents. Fluoropolymers are used in the manufacture of Teflon.
- Replacement of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs):
- Due to environmental concerns, part of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
- Uranium Tetrafluoride:
- Hydrofluoric acid is used in the manufacture of uranium tetrafluoride, an important ingredient in nuclear fuel and fission explosives.
- Other Applications:
- Hydrofluoric acid is also used in stainless pickling, petroleum alkylation, glass etching, oil & gas well treatment, and electronics industry as an etcher and cleaner.
- Fluoride in Drinking Water
- Concerns over its use
- Linked to Fluorosis
- Permissible limit in drinking water (1.5 mg/l)
- Methods of Defluoridation
- Fluorine in the Atmosphere
- Controversy over chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- Depletion of ozone layer
- Alternative compounds: HFCs and HCFCs
- Boost in fluorite consumption expected
- Phasing out of greenhouse gases
- Potential persistence for over a century.
- Total world reserves of fluorite: 310 million tonnes
- Main countries with reserves: Mexico (22%), China (14%), South Africa (13%), Mongolia (7%)
- World production of fluorite in 2018: 5.90 million tonnes (9% increase from previous year)
- Principal producing countries in 2018: China (59%), Mexico (20%), South Africa (4%), Kazakhstan (2%)
- The main sources of fluorite imports were China & South Africa (35% each), Thailand (18%), Vietnam, and Morocco (3% each).
- The main sources of aluminum fluoride imports were Mexico (33%), China (27%), UAE (20%), Indonesia (10%), Jordan (5%) and Qatar (4%).
- The main sources of hydrofluoric acid imports were China (81%) and Germany (18%).