The Barreiro niobium mine in Araxá contains the world's largest known proven reserves of
pyrochlore, the mineral that contains niobium. Even though the deposit is substantial, the company
continuously invests to optimize the extraction and processing procedures to ensure the rational use of
resources. CBMM sells only niobium finished products. No amount of niobium ore leaves Araxá
without being transformed into higher value-added, finished niobium products.
Ore Conveyor Belt
Ore is transported from the mine to the ore blending yard via an electric-powered conveyor belt,
eliminating the need for truck transport. The ore is also transferred via conveyor belt from the ore
blending yard to the Concentration Plant.
Ore Blending System
The ore homogenization system optimizes mineral resources by reducing variability in the process, which
leads to increased recovery rates during ore processing at the Concentration Plant.
This facility receives the ore from the blending yard and separates the mineral that contains niobium
(pyrochlore) from the other minerals that make up the ore by using a process that involves grinding,
magnetic separation, desliming and flotation. Online chemical analysis of the process flow of the
floated concentrate allows for real-time tracking. Waste from mineral processing is sent in pulp form
to Dam 6.
Built on compacted ground using clay material and mine overburden, the tailings dam is fully lined with
a layer of impermeable 1,5-mm polyethylene. The dam’s impermeable system reduces water losses
from soil infiltration and enables higher rates of recirculation of the water used in industrial
100% of effluents are treated
96% of water is recycled
Niobium-rich pyrochlore concentrate is refined via pyrometallurgy to remove impurities like sulfur,
phosphorus and lead.
High Purity Niobium Oxide Plant
At the High Purity Niobium Oxide Plant, the refined concentrate undergoes chemical processes to reach
purity levels of 98.5% Nb2O5. At the Oxides Plant, part of the high purity
niobium oxide is subjected to another purification step to obtain optical grade niobium oxide that
contains 99,5% Nb2O5.
High Purity Nb Oxide (Wear
resistant and energy storage materials)
Heavy equipment for mining and construction
Lithium batteries for electric vehicles
The refined niobium concentrate is converted into ferroniobium via aluminothermic reduction in electric
Larger diameter, higher strength pipes - more efficient and safer transport of oil and gas
Buildings made of higher strength, lighter steels
Structures for wind towers - renewable energy
Crushing, Packaging and Shipping Facility
Ferroniobium is blended, crushed and packaged in accordance with the specifications of each customer.
Other niobium products are prepared and packaged in their specific production plants and sent to this
facility for shipping.
Special Alloys Plant
High purity niobium oxide is converted into vacuum grade ferroniobium and nickel-niobium by way of
FeNb and NiNb (Corrosion and high temperature resistant materials)
Aerospace industry - superalloys for aircraft turbines
Vehicle exhaust systems - materials with improved performance against corrosion and oxidation
at high temperatures
Niobium Metal Plant
Niobium metal is produced in electron beam furnaces where impurities like carbon and oxygen are
vaporized, leaving residuals on the order of parts per million. The final product is 99,9% niobium.
Niobium metal is available in ingots weighing 600 and 1.500 kilograms.
Nb Metal (Aerospace/ Medical/Research)
MRIs - superconducting magnets
Particle accelerators - radiofrequency cavities
Special Oxides Plant
Here, technologically advanced processes are performed to achieve a highly refined, exceptionally pure
product called optical grade niobium oxide.
Optical Grade | HY-340 | ANO (Functionalized
More efficient solar panels
Catalyzers - production of organic chemicals, basic petrochemicals and automotive applications
Ion exchange resins
Optical lenses and electronic components
Electrical ceramics and piezoelectrics
Hydrogen fuel cells (clean energy)
Metallurgical Processes and Materials
Completed in 2017, this research center houses a vacuum induction furnace that enables the development
of superalloy prototypes and speeds up the insertion of special products containing niobium into the
aerospace, power generation and oil & gas industries.
One of the most comprehensive niobium research centers in the world, the Technology Center focuses on
innovative approaches to optimize the rational use of natural resources, raw materials and the
processes used for ore beneficiation and the industrialization of niobium products.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
All disposed water is treated at an Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant. The amount of wastewater
treated is a function of the volume of water that must be maintained in the system.
Environmental Development Center
The EDC is composed of the Wild Fauna Scientific Breeding Center, the Plant Nursery, the Environmental
Education Program and the Cerrado Native Species Arboretum. The center covers an area of almost six
hectares within CBMM’s Industrial Complex.