Privately owned Mineraria Gerrei is restarting the Silius fluorspar mine on Sardinia with an investment of over €44M (US$47M).
The Silius fluorspar mine, around 50 km from Cagliari, closed in 2006 but, in its heyday in the 1980s, it was one of the largest producing mines in Europe serving the Italian market for acidspar.
The operation is projected to have an annual production of approximately 70kt of acidspar and is also expected to produce 6,800tpy of lead ore in the form of galena. With a view to the future, the company has very recently been awarded exclusive exploration rights, as well as the previously issued mining concessions from the Region of Sardinia. Mineraria Gerrei plans to fully resume production by the end of 2024.
There has been an extensive overhaul of the mine’s infrastructure and production processes after the long shutdown and the investment will not only restart the mine but revitalize the entire area. The company aims to use innovative production systems to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment with measures such as the complete re-use of processing by-products, clever use of water through the introduction of advanced recirculation and purification systems in production processes, the scheduled electrification of mining equipment, and its own energy generation from renewable sources.
There is production in Italy of both major consuming end-users for acidspar: hydrofluoric acid and aluminium fluoride. Over the last few years, demand in Italy has been satisfied by imports which totalled 266kt in 2022. There is increasing interest in fluorspar, specifically acidspar grade, as it is an essential part of the energy transition, from the use of fluoropolymers to its vital role as an electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with demand forecast to rise on the back of electric vehicle market penetration.