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Over 170 representatives from the entire process chain discussed the challenges associated with improving wear resistance. This is an issue of great economic importance and steel and alloy producers, mining companies, equipment manufacturers and researchers were present to share advances in technology, outline the overall needs of the industry and discuss future opportunities.

Equipment wear has severe economic consequences, not only by direct replacement costs, but also through losses associated with machine downtime and lost production. 

The challenges of wear are significant across a broad range of mechanical processing operations, including crushing, drilling, conveying, mixing and separating. Although of immediate interest to the mining sector, wear resistance is also an important issue in iron and steel production, cement manufacturing, power generation, recycling and environmental protection.

Research has indicated that wear resistance not only correlates with a material's hardness, but also with its toughness. Consequently, substantial efforts have been made over recent decades to optimize steel and iron based alloys to better withstand these harsh conditions and thus extend the life of equipment and components. 

Niobium is one of the key alloying elements that can be used to upgrade the functional profile of steels and irons against wear. This knowledge provided the symposium in Brazil with its core driving impetus. In addition to expert presentations on the topic, an exhibit of wear resistant equipment was on display, providing a hands-on experience for participants.