MINING THE WORLD'S LARGEST BERTRANDITE ORE RESERVE
Materion's bertrandite ore mine was developed in 1968 in the Topaz-Spor Mountain area of the western Utah desert. Here, the company pioneered the innovative exploration, development and mining technologies that for decades have made it possible and economical to produce beryllium materials. Beryllium ore, which cannot be detected with the naked eye, is often covered by rock layers hundreds of feet thick. Even after it is identified, it must be separated from the high volume of rock.
TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTIONIZES BERYLLIUM EXPLORATION AND MINING
Mine surveying has been revolutionized by GPS, enabling one technician to collect data that once required a survey crew. Survey and drill data are compiled into specialized modeling software that produces the means to more accurately pinpoint deposits, map and design ore bodies, develop new projects and optimize mining activities. A handheld field device known as a berylometer, and detailed maps, are used to provide Materion the necessary quality control required for lifting and stockpiling exposed ore.
INNOVATION IN BERYLLIUM PROCESSING
Since 1969, Materion’s mill in Delta, Utah, has processed two types of ore to extract beryllium – the locally mined bertrandite ore and beryl ore imported from various suppliers. For 50 years, Materion and its predecessor companies have been leading suppliers of the beryllium industry’s primary feedstock, high-quality beryllium hydroxide. Solutions of bertrandite and beryl are combined and processed through solvent extraction to concentrate the beryllium and remove impurities. Beryllium is then precipitated through heating, producing a beryllium carbonate that is further heated to high temperatures and converted to beryllium hydroxide. From the mill, the product is shipped to the Materion facility in Elmore, Ohio, to produce metallic beryllium, beryllium alloys and the beryllia ceramic feedstock for the Materion ceramics products.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PRESERVE HABITATS
Materion’s approved life-of-mine mining and reclamation plan is providing habitat for the wildlife populations in the Topaz-Spor Mountain region. Antelope are frequently seen at the mine sites while native plants in reclaimed and reseeded areas are reintroduced in the western Utah desert.
FROM BERTRANDITE TO BERYLLIUM METALS
Why do we do all this work to make beryllium? it is an incredible material!
Beryllium (Be) metals are essential for many of the most advanced technologies with unmatched modulus-to-weight ratio. Beryllium metals have low thermal expansion, so it is resistant to changing shape in temperature extremes. This combination of characteristics makes beryllium ideal for demanding applications, including satellites and space structures, imaging technologies and X-rays, military aircraft and telescopes.
Learn more about the properties and benefits of our beryllium metals and composites.
FROM DELTA TO BEYOND
Materion has been supplying beryllium metals to the world's most impressive innovations, from NASA missions to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Read about our contributions:
- Beryllium metal was critical to the success of several NASA missions. Even as early as 1959, it was used on the Project Mercury mission and is still being used today on new innovations such as the James Webb Telescope. Read about the 60 years of material contributions.
- Materion was honored by CERN with their "Crystal Award" for the work we did delivering the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) beryllium beam pipe for the LHC. Materion is only one of 19 companies to have ever received the Crystal Award since the award's inception in 2000. Read more about this prestigious award.
- Materion beryllium makes the mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope possible and contributes to further space innovation. Read more on why NASA picked it for space!