Materion Corporation announced today that it is significantly increasing capacity to produce beryllium hydroxide using the bertrandite ore reserves at the Company's mine in the Topaz-Spor Mountain area of western Utah. The Materion mine is the largest known operational source of bertrandite ore, which is the most abundant source of beryllium.
Materion currently supplies more than 40% of the world beryllium market and more than 70% of the freshly mined beryllium, the balance coming from inventories stockpiled by others in the past. Over the next two to three years, stockpiled sources of beryllium supply are expected to decline, and Materion will be able to increase supply to fill the void.
Materion has proven reserves of 6.25 million tons of bertrandite ore in its Utah mine, that, at current beryllium hydroxide rates of production, would support more than 70 years of operation. The property may also contain another 6.15 million tons of bertrandite ore in undeveloped reserves.
"Expanding capacity is one of several actions we are taking to put us in a position to respond quickly as global supplies of beryllium decrease," said Glenn Maxwell, President, Performance Metals Group. "These initiatives include methods that shorten the time it takes to develop a pit for excavation and incrementally increase production from our refinery. Our sophisticated mining software allows us to find ore with higher levels of confidence and design pits that enable us to extract an increased proportion of useable ore at shallower and easier to excavate levels, and at lower costs than in the past." The capital requirement for the increased capacity fits within the normal annual expenditures of the Company.
Materion is the world's only mine-to-mill integrated beryllium producer, providing an assured, long-term source of beryllium. The beryllium hydroxide from the Utah refinery is shipped to Materion's Elmore, Ohio, facility, which produces metallic beryllium, beryllium alloys and beryllium hydroxide ceramic feedstock.