Kenya Fluorspar Company plans to suspend its operations again by April 30 this year due to low demand for the mineral which has led to losses for three consecutive years. The factory had suspended operations from June to August 2015, citing similar reasons.
“A prolonged global slump in commodity prices has negatively impacted extractive business around the world, including Kenya Fluorspar,” Managing Director Nico Spangenberg said in a notice on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, a collapse of the market in the last six months has led to a dramatic reduction in fluorspar prices and demand and thus the company’s operations have become unsustainable in the current market.”
Spangenberg says once the present conditions change, the company will resume operations. However, some 75 workers across all levels will be sacked. “All agreements will be respected and wages and dues paid in full,” he said.
“In the future, when the company becomes financially sustainable to resume operations, current employees will receive preference in re-employment.”
Fluorspar is a commercial term for the mineral fluorite (calcium fluoride, CaF2) which, when pure, contains 51.1 percent Calcium and 48.9 percent Fluoride (an inorganic, monoatomic anion of Fluorine). The mineral, which is wholly exported, is one of Kenya’s top foreign exchange earners. It is used in making glassware, flux, cement, among others.
The world reserves of fluorite are estimated at 230 million tonnes (Mt) with the largest deposits being in South Africa (about 41 Mt). However, China leads world production, with about 3 Mt annually.