best picks: General Moly and Mercator Minerals
Events, Trends, and Issues: U.S. mine output of molybdenum in concentrate in 2010 increased about 17% from that
of 2009. U.S. imports for consumption increased 67% from those of 2009, while U.S. exports increased slightly from
those of 2009. Domestic roasters operated at between 80% and 90% of full production capacity in 2009, but in 2010
operated close to full production levels. U.S. reported consumption decreased slightly from that of 2009 while
apparent consumption increased 57%. Mine capacity utilization in 2009 was about 82%.
Molybdenum prices increased in the first half of 2010 but slowly started to decrease in the third quarter; however,
molybdenum demand remained strong. Both byproduct and primary molybdenum production levels in the United
States recovered in 2010 from their relatively low levels in 2009. The Henderson Mine in Empire, CO, increased
molybdenum production by almost 50% in 2010 from that in 2009. Byproduct molybdenum production continued to be
suspended at the Chino Mine in Grant County, NM, the Morenci Mine in Greenlee County, AZ, and the Mission Mine
in Pima County, AZ. The Questa Mine, in Taos County, NM, suspended its primary molybdenum mine production as
World Mine Production and Reserves: Reserves for Canada, China, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, and Russia were
revised based on new information published in mining companies’ annual reports.
Mine production Reserves3
2009 2010e (thousand metric tons)
United States 47,800 56,000 2,700
Armenia 4,150 4,200 200
Canada 8,840 9,100 200
Chile 34,900 39,000 1,100
China 93,500 94,000 4,300
Iran 3,700 3,700 50
Kazakhstan 380 400 130
Kyrgyzstan 250 250 100
Mexico 7,800 8,000 130
Mongolia 3,000 3,000 160
Peru 12,300 12,000 450
Russiae 3,800 3,800 250
Uzbekistane 550 550 60
World total (rounded) 221,000 234,000 9,800
World Resources: Identified resources of molybdenum in the United States amount to about 5.4 million tons, and in
the rest of the world, about 14 million tons. Molybdenum occurs as the principal metal sulfide in large low-grade
porphyry molybdenum deposits and as an associated metal sulfide in low-grade porphyry copper deposits. Resources
of molybdenum are adequate to supply world needs for the foreseeable future.
Substitutes: There is little substitution for molybdenum in its major application as an alloying element in steels and
cast irons. In fact, because of the availability and versatility of molybdenum, industry has sought to develop new
materials that benefit from the alloying properties of the metal. Potential substitutes for molybdenum include
chromium, vanadium, niobium (columbium), and boron in alloy steels; tungsten in tool steels; graphite, tungsten, and
tantalum for refractory materials in high-temperature electric furnaces; and chrome-orange, cadmium-red, and
organic-orange pigments for molybdenum orange.