Recently molybdenum has been in the news. China Molybdenum has announced that it will be launching an IPO on the Shanghai exchange later in the year. Swiss Metal Assets has also decided to add Molybdenum to its, ¨Construction and Engineering¨, basket of metals joining tantalum, tungsten, chromium, zirconium and cobalt.
Molybdenum is a refractory metal with the symbol of Mo on the periodic table of the elements and an atomic number of 42. This rare strategic metal was discovered in 1778 by a Swedish scientist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Molybdenum has the sixth highest melting point of all elements. With a melting point of 2,623°C (4,753°F) only tungsten, rhenium, carbon, osmium and tantalum boast a higher melting point.
The largest producer of molybdenum is China followed by Chile, United States, Peru and Canada. Molybdenum is primarily a bi-product of copper and tungsten mining with a few mines producing it as a principal ore. Total world production is approximately 230,000 metric tons per year according to the USGS (United States Geological Survey).
The use of molybdenum is extensive. There are very few substitutes for the metal. This keeps the demand high. Molybdenum has an extensive list of uses. The top use is in alloys which uses about 70% of all the metal available each year.
Here is a list of the uses of Molybdenum:
Alloys in construction
Superalloys in aviation and rocketry
Lubricants for high temperature applications
Alloy with steel to make stainless steel
X-ray tube components
Applications to protect against heat
Solar industry as an electrode material in CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenide) Panels
The future of Molybdenum looks bright with the continued expansion of the green economy around the world. The solar industry growth will continue to use significantly more of the rare metal in CdTe (Cadmium Telluride) panels and the CIGS panels. The market for CIGS solar panels are projected to double by 2015. This will put significant pressure on the molybdenum market as well as the rest of the rare strategic metals.