Materion Resources began operations in Millard and Juab County in 1968 and is one of our Country’s largest asset.
What does Materion mine? What is the operation process like? What makes it essential to our economy? Let's start with the history of Materion Resources, a history that dates millions of years in the making.
Materion started as Brush Laboratories in 1921, mining the rare mineral and metal beryllium. Beryllium is incredibly versatile; it weighs four times less than steel, and can withstand incredible pressures and heats other materials cannot. This makes it incredibly popular and in wide demand.
During World War Two, Materion single handedly produced one-half of the country’s aircraft and marine needs. Following the war more advanced technology planning started in the 1950's. Delta location has about 70 employees.
There are about 38 million pounds of beryllium classified as reserves as of year-end 2020. Three different deposit layers were formed from volcanic activity long ago. These three layers shifted to an approximate 45-degree angle.
This is convenient because now the beryllium is easily accessible. The ore is very deep; therefore, future mining is promising. Materion spent considerable time drilling out the property to better understand how much ore is available. It is estimated there is 75 plus years left of usable beryllium to mine. To date, the estimated number of pounds of beryllium mined is approximately 20 million.
The top layer of beryllium is blasted with explosives to begin the hauling process. Truckloads are then hauled to the processing plant north of Delta. The estimated grade of ore remaining in the ground is approximately 0.7% beryllium.
The ore is ground to a fine powder and sulfuric acid is applied to leach the beryllium from the ore. This liquid is purified and the remnants are mixed with two chemicals that act like a beryllium magnet. The beryllium is extracted from solutions and placed in a hydrolyzer where it regrows the crystals. The overall process results are a product that contains approximately 18 percent beryllium. This product is then packaged in plastic drum containers. About 2/3 of the shipments go to the main plant operations in Ohio, and 1/3 gets shipped to Materion's competitor in Japan.
Materion removes approximately 800 tons of waste, to expose 15 tons of ore that will produce approximately 65 lbs of beryllium. Bertrandite ore grades are very predictable, making Materion's mining a stable business for many, many years to come.
Beryllium is used in many every day electronics. Chances are, many items in your house have beryllium in it! Cell phones and electronics use a copper-alloy with beryllium to enhance the item’s longevity. Without the beryllium added, parts may only last a few days and with the addition of beryllium the product will last several years.
Cars, energy, telecom internet, solar panels, oil and gas drills, and even airplanes need beryllium. All x-ray machines have beryllium. The United States National Defense relies on beryllium for many uses such as optical systems. Beryllium is critical to the production of nuclear weapons and cannot be sold to known hostile countries such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea and China to list a few.
The James Webb Telescope is being built to replace the Hubble Space Telescope, launching in the near future. This new telescope will go farther than the Hubble Telescope, beyond the moon and take crystal clear pictures of space. The James Webb Telescope has 3-foot, handmade beryllium mirrors to make the pictures more successful.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, located in southern France, is an experiment to develop a fusion-reactor that will produce energy similar to our sun. The reactor is made with beryllium panels that serve as a blanket to protect the reactor.
There will most likely be a continual demand for beryllium extending into the future. A little bit of beryllium goes a long way and Materion will be here to supply the demand of our Nation for many years to come.
Lunch was catered by Kathy's Kitchen and was delicious roast beef sandwiches. Thanks to Kathy's Kitchen and Materion Corporation for the March Membership meeting.