10 Top Molybdenum-producing Countries

10 Top Molybdenum-producing Countries

Molybdenum is a metallic element that is most commonly used as an alloying agent to enhance metals' strength and durability. It is also used for a range of chemical purposes, for instance as a lubricant or pigment. In most applications, moly has no substitutes, a fact that helps keep demand steady.

While the average price of moly rose in 2014, it may fall in 2015. That expectation is based on the fact that the Chinese government canceled export quotas for the metal in 2015 following a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that such restrictions violate WTO rules. A lack of quotas is likely to increase world moly supply.

With that in mind, it's interesting to look at the top moly-producing countries of 2014. Here's a brief overview of those nations based on statistics from the US Geological Survey (USGS).

1. China

Mine production: 100,000 tonnes

China produces the vast majority of the world's moly, and despite a 1,000-tonne drop in production between 2014 and 2015, the country remains the globe's biggest producer by a large margin.

The Asian country's massive economy includes a giant industrial sector, and it is keen to limit its reliance on western mine output. By producing the moly needed to keep its industrial capacity strong, China avoids overpaying for imported metal. In years past, the country leveraged its position as the top moly producer by limiting exports of the metal, but as mentioned above, that changed in 2015. The full implications of China's more open trade policy for moly remain unclear.

2. United States

Mine production: 65,500 tonnes

The US ramped up its moly output in 2014, raising production by 4,800 tonnes, but its demand for the metal still remains higher than domestic supply — last year, its imports of the metal rose by 17 percent.

Though the US produces much less moly than China, it is home to over one-third of the world's known reserves, which indicates that it will likely remain a key producer of the metal for years to come. The country's primary moly mine is the Climax mine in Colorado, which is wholly owned and operated by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX).

3. Chile

Mine production: 39,000 tonnes

Chile increased its moly production slightly in 2014, and anticipates a larger jump in production during 2015. Indeed, Reuters notes that state officials expect production will rise to approximately 61,400 tonnes this year. Over half of the country's output in 2015 is expected to come from state-owned miner Coldelco.

4. Peru

Mine production: 18,100 tonnes

Peruvian moly production held steady between 2013 and 2014. According to a recent EY report, the majority of investment in Peru's mining industry is directed at copper. While that might not sound good for moly, the fact that the metal is often a by-product of copper mining means that Peru's moly output may rise in the coming years.

5. Mexico

Mine production: 11,000 tonnes

Moly production fell by over 1,000 tonnes in Mexico last year, but the country's output has been growing since 1997, as per MBendi Information Services. The majority of Mexico's moly comes from the La Caridad open-pit mine, which is wholly owned by privately held Grupo Mexico. The mine is primarily devoted to copper, but produces moly as a by-product.

6. Canada

Mine production: 9,500 tonnes

Most of Canada's moly production occurs in British Columbia, which is home to Endako, one of the largest moly-producing mines in North America. However, the mine, which is 75-percent owned by Thompson Creek Metals Company (TSX:TCM,NYSE:TC), is set to go on care and maintenance on July 1, 2015.

7. Armenia

Mine production: 6,700 tonnes

Armenia has significant moly reserves. The Kajaran mine, which is owned and operated by privately held CRONIMET Group, is the country's largest mine and features the region's largest deposits of copper and moly. The mine has ore resources in excess of 2.2 billion tonnes.

8. Iran

Mine production: 6,300 tonnes

In 2014, Iran increased its moly production by 2,300 tonnes. That jump represents the country's investment in moly mining, and Iran will probably focus more on moly in the years to come. In 2013, the country announced the discovery of a new moly deposit in East Azerbaijan, Business Standard states. This new find is estimated to contain reserves of 21.7 million tonnes.

9. Russia

Mine production: 4,800 tonnes

The USGS' data for Russian moly output is an estimate, and remains unchanged from 2013. The country retains much of its production for projects at home. A report from Emerging Markets notes that Russian nuclear reactors are specifically designed to use a type of moly only produced within the country.

10. Turkey

Mine production: 2,800 tonnes

In the early parts of this century, Turkey's moly output was unknown, as per a separate USGS report. The country's production data is now known, and the organization states that between 2013 and 2014 the country increased its moly output by 1,300 tonnes.

10 Top Molybdenum-producing Countries from Moly Investing News