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Future bright for molybdenum

09.01.2012  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX

Keywords: [molybdenum] [mining] [China] [Asia] [steel] [alloys] [South America]

Roskill recently released a market outlook on molybdenum. The company expects that molybdenum growth rates will exceed global GDP rates to 2016.

Global demand for molybdenum bounced back from the impact of the global economic downturn, growing by just over 11% in 2010 and a further 9% in 2011, according to the report. China now accounts for around 31% of global molybdenum demand and its growth rates continue to outpace those in other countries. While global demand for molybdenum is forecast to grow at an average of 4.6% per year to 2016, Chinese demand is forecast to increase by 7.5% per year. The principal engines of growth will be increased use of stainless and other steels containing molybdenum in process, power and desalination plants, in oil and gas production and distribution and in motor vehicle components. The greater use of molybdenum steels and high performance alloys and catalysts, combined with robust growth in the economies of the BRIC countries and other countries in Asia and South America, will ensure growing future demand for molybdenum.

Mine capacity sufficient to meet demand until 2015.

Primary molybdenum mines were the first to respond to the recovery in demand in 2010, but, in 2011, growth in output of byproduct molybdenum from copper mines outpaced growth from primary mines. In 2012, mine capacity is sufficient to meet demand and supply is likely to show a surplus over the next three years. Roskill lists some 60 new projects and expansions that could potentially produce molybdenum, yielding an additional 240 ktpy, indicating that long-term mine supply is assured. Around 33% of new projects identified in 2012 are located in North America, 28% in Central and South America and 10% in China. In the next two years, byproduct output is likely to grow at a higher rate, but, from 2014 on, new Chinese molybdenum-only projects will redress the balance. In the past, insufficient roasting capacity has resulted in a bottleneck, but additional capacity has been installed and further additions are under construction in Chile, China and the US by Codelco, Molymet, China Molybdenum and JDC. HP

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