Fact Sheet 2012–3056
Beryllium is one of the lightest and stiffest metals, but there was little industrial demand for it until the 1930s and 1940s when the aerospace, defense, and nuclear sectors began using beryllium and its compounds. Beryllium is now classified by the U.S. Department of Defense as a strategic and critical material because it is used in products that are vital to national security. The oxide form of beryllium was identified in 1797, and scientists first isolated metallic beryllium in 1828.
The United States is the world’s leading source of beryllium. A single mine at Spor Mountain, Utah, produced more than 85 percent of the beryllium mined worldwide in 2010. China produced most of the remainder, and less than 2 percent came from Mozambique and other countries. National stockpiles also provide significant amounts of beryllium for processing.
To help predict where future beryllium supplies might be located, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists study how and where beryllium resources are concentrated in Earth’s crust and use that knowledge to assess the likelihood that undiscovered beryllium resources may exist. Techniques to assess mineral resources have been developed by the USGS to support the stewardship of Federal lands and to better evaluate mineral resource availability in a global context. The USGS also compiles statistics and information on the worldwide supply of, demand for, and flow of beryllium. These data are used to inform U.S. national policymaking.
First posted May 15, 2012
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Boland, M.A., 2012, Beryllium—Important for National Defense: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012–3056, 2 p. (Also available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3056/.)