THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 08, 2009
Beryllium is a lightweight metal possessing unique mechanical and thermal properties. Its specific stiffness is much greater than other engineered structural materials such as aluminum, titanium and steel. Beryllium products are used in a variety of high performance applications in the defense, space, industrial, scientific equipment, electronics (including acoustics), medical, automotive electronics and optical scanning markets Beryllium is a consistent of more than 90 minerals, but only 2 are exploited commercially for their beryllium content. Bertrandite (4BeO*2SiO2H2O) is the principal ore mined in the United States, and beryl (3BeO*Al203*6SiO,) is the principal ore mined in the rest of the world (copper beryllium master alloy and beryllium vacuum cast billet). Mechanized mining methods are used in the United States, but beryl mining operations in the rest of the world are limited to labor-intensive hand-cobbing of the host rock for beryl crystals. As a result, production from operations outside the United States is sporadic and largely is dependent on the economic and political situations within the individual country.
USGS Geology and Nonfuel Mineral Deposits of Asia and the Pacific publication states:
“Beryllium deposits are associated with igneous bodies at Darrahe-Nur, Afghanistan, and Keketuohai, China. These types of deposits also produce bi-product niobium, tin, and tantalum.” Here is the map form this publication:
Beryllium demand is expected to increase sharply – between 2005 and 2010 consumption in North America is expected to grow from 86 tons to 319, in Europe – from 95 to 125, and in Asia Pacific from 45 to 65. The major world producer is the USA; and the others include: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal
Two companies control production
- Brush Engineered Materials Inc. seems to be very profitable – their stock climbed from $100 in 2002 to over $673 in 2007
- NGK metals Corp.
International Beryllium Corporation last week announced that the United States Department of Defense and a special Pentagon board published a report stating that high purity beryllium is a critical material for which domestic sources of supply need to be ensured. The US DoD report also stated that “domestic production capabilities have atrophied, and there are no reliable foreign suppliers”. Thus, this should be very good business in invest in?