The World' s Largest ...
Niobium mine at Araxá, Brazil
The open pit mine here is operated by Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), and supplies 65% to 70% of world demand for niobium products. Araxá deposit contains 460Mt of reserves, averaging 2.5% niobium oxide. In December 2003, CBMM commissioned two new manufacturing plants in its industrial complex at Araxá. The first project involved a new electron beam furnace to increase CBMM's pure niobium metal manufacturing capacity to 210t/y. The furnace can produce ingot up to 38cm diameter.
CBMM has also started to operate a new facility to manufacture vacuum grade niobium master alloys: nickel-niobium, ferro-niobium, and niobium-aluminium. The new plant has increased annual production capacity of vacuum grade niobium master alloys by 2000t. This accounts for 8% to 9% of the output of niobium. CBMM also has medium term plans to increase production capacity of niobium products from 50 000t/y to 70 000t/y.