Niobium Mine

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.

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.

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 processes.

100% of effluents
are treated

96% of water
is recycled

Refining Plant

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)

Cutting tools

Heavy equipment for mining and construction

Lithium batteries for electric vehicles

Metallurgy Plant

The refined niobium concentrate is converted into ferroniobium via aluminothermic reduction in electric arc furnaces.

FeNb (Mobility/Structural/Energy)

Lighter structures - improved vehicle performance, reduced emissions

Larger diameter, higher strength pipes - more efficient and safer transport of oil and gas

Safer vehicles

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 aluminothermic reduction.

Vacuum Grade 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 materials)

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 Research Center

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.

Technology Center

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.

Administration Building