Beryllium Basics: Building On Strength As A Critical & Strategic Metal

December 14, 2012

 

 

UMP Beryllium Production

Source: KazAtomProm

 

In its 2010 annual report, KazAtomProm give figures (described as "Production of beryllium output, tons") for the years 2008-1010 of 1,686, 712 and 1,817, respectively, with an expected output in 2011 of 1,906 tons.

And it its third-quarter 2012 results, the company said that: "In comparison with 9 months of 2011, the production indicators of Ulba Metallurgical Plant JSC illustrate 13 percent increase of the beryllium output." Unfortunately it is not possible to find out what those 2011 figures actually are; whereas during the '90s the company used to import beryllium concentrate from Russia, such production actually ceased in 1997. UMP has since then been using only the stocks it accumulated during the time of the Soviet Union.

There has always been quite some speculation as to the extent of the company's stockpile, but if the content of KazAtomProm's Eurobond prospectus of May 2010 is to be believed, then: "Ulba JSC owns a large quantity of beryllium ore inherited from the former Soviet Union, which is sufficient to supply its needs for over 15 years at the current rate of production."

And in the same prospectus, the company gave annual figures for sales of beryllium from 2007 to 2009 of 1,486.8, 1,608.0 and 884.0 tonnes, respectively.

Future Producers?

The last four years has seen both the appearance and fairly rapid disappearance of at least one would-be beryllium producer, and moves by at least two other entities to become involved on the mine production side.

BE Resources Inc. completed its IPO and listing on the TSX Venture Exchange in October 2009, with the intention of exploring and evaluating "a significant beryllium target in New Mexico, USA." Following a change in management team and the completion (announced in October 2011) of a "Review of Overall Strategy," the company appears to have abandoned beryllium for the time being, with the latest announcement on its website (dated January of this year), stating that it "continues to search for a suitable new project for the Company and to review its options for its New Mexico beryllium project which has been placed on care and maintenance."

In its fourth quarter (year ended June 30, 2012), "Management's Discussion and Analysis," Canada's IBC Advanced Alloys (the renamed International Beryllium Corp.) reported that after "evaluating the results of the last programs in the summer of 2012," it had concluded that most of its "mineral properties were unlikely to contain economic mineralization and decided suspend all exploration activity." These had included its claims at both Utah's Spor Mountain and its 100 percent interest in the Boomer mine at Lake George, Colo. It continues to maintain properties in Brazil, but is not currently pursuing exploration in them.

 

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