Beryllium and Brush Wellman: What the Future May Hold.

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The Buy American Act was first signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1933. The act was established to protect the jobs of Americans by requiring the United States government to use materials manufactured within the United States whenever possible. In recent months President Obama has released a proposal to make provisions to the current Buy American Act. These provisions would put tighter restrictions on the use of imported materials in all U.S. manufacturing. With the threat of tighter restrictions comes the threat of a complete ban on the use of imported materials in all government and commercial manufacturing. If there ever were to be a ban on all imported materials most companies would suffer in a multitude of ways. There is however, one particular company that would thrive, albeit at expense of an immense number of consumers, companies, and taxpayers. Brush Wellman is a company that manufactures a multitude of products, but the material they produce that would cause the above to happen is a material called Beryllium. Beryllium is a high-melting, lightweight, corrosion-resistant, rigid, steel-gray metallic element that is used in the manufacturing of everything from satellites to commercial x-ray machines. Because Brush Wellman is the only miner and manufacturer of Beryllium in the United States, a ban on all imported materials would put them in the position of becoming a monopoly, due to no fault or misconduct of their own. Brush Wellman would essentially control the market. Although there would be certain benefits to banning the use of imported materials in U.S. manufacturing, in the case of Beryllium, the negative consequences would far outweigh the benefits.

There are only four countries in the world currently mining and producing beryllium: China, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and the United States. Brush Wellman is the owner of the only mine in the United States. U.S. commercial manufacturers are currently able to buy their beryllium from...
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