Molybdenum (symbol Mo) is a silvery-white, hard, malleable, metallic element. Molybdenum melts at about 2610 degrees Celsius and boils at about 4640 degrees Celsius. Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered molybdenum in 1778.
Molybdenum occurs in nature in the form of molybdenite and wulfenite. Contributing to the growth of plants, it is an important trace element in soils. Approximately 70% of the world supply of molybdenum is obtained as a by-product of copper mining. Molybdenum is chiefly used as an alloy to strengthen steel and resist corrosion. It is used for structural work, aircraft parts, and forged automobile parts because it withstands high temperatures and pressures and adds strength. Other uses include lubricants, a refractory metal in chemical applications, electron tubing, and as a catalyst.
Prices - The average monthly U.S. merchant price of molybdic oxide in 2007 rose by +17.9% yr/yr to $29.57 per pound. That was below the 2005 record high of $32.70 per pound but still almost 11 times higher than the decade low of $2.37 seen in 2001.
Supply - World production of molybdenum in 2005 (latest data available) rose by +16.4% yr/yr to a record high of 185,000 metric tons, continuing the recovery from the 11-year low of 122,000 metric tons seen in 2002. The world's largest producers of molybdenum are the U.S. with 31% of world production in 2005, Chili with 26%, and China with 22%.
U.S. production of molybdenum concentrate in 2005 rose +39.8% yr/yr to 58,000 metric tons, continuing the recovery from the 20-year low of 32,300 metric tons posted in 2002. U.S. production of molybdenum primary products in 2005 rose +22.6% to 29,800 metric tons, with 28,700 metric tons of that production in molybdic oxide and 1,100 metric tons in molybdenum metal powder.
Demand - U.S. consumption of molybdenum concentrate in 2005 (latest data available) rose by +20.4% yr/yr to 46,600 metric tons, continuing to recover from the 11-year low of 21,200 metric tons posted in 2002. U.S. consumption of molybdenum concentrate has more than doubled over the last 10 years. U.S. consumption of molybdenum primary products rose by +8.6% yr/yr in 2005 to 18,900 metric tons.
Trade - U.S. imports of molybdenum concentrate for consumption in 2005 rose +35.5% yr/yr to 11,900 metric tons, continuing to recover from the 11-year low of 4,710 metric tons posted in 2002.