The TEX Report Topics < Ferro Alloys > Home
HOME >> Topics List >> March, 2012 >> 06 (Tue)
2011 Mo Production By 9 Western World Majors Up 6.56% Y-O-Y
= Up 7.1% in North America, and up 6.0% in South America =
Total production of molybdenum in concentrates in 2011 (calendar year) by 9 major miners in the western world, excluding China, was 287.31 million pounds, up by 6.56% from 296.6 million pounds in 2010. The production in 2010 by the same producers was also up by 15.4% from 2009. The year of 2011 was the second year of increase in molybdenum production in a row. Details of the production by miner are as per the table attached hereto.

In North America, production was 150.45 million pounds (up by 7.1% year on year), and in South America, it was 136.86 million pounds (up by 6.0% year on year). Molybdenum production in North America is mainly from molybdenum mines producing molybdenum as a primary product, while in Central/South America, molybdenum is produced as a byproduct mostly at copper mines. Therefore the molybdenum production in Central/South America is to a large extent influenced by the copper market.

The copper price averaged over 2011 was US$4.0050/lb, up by 16.9% year on year, while the molybdenum oxide price yearly average was US$15.33/lb Mo, down by 1.8% from 2010. These price moves were reflected in the output of copper and molybdenum in Central/South American producers, i.e. Codelco, the South American copper giant produced 46.30 million pounds of molybdenum in 2011, only a little up by 2.9% from 2010, while Southern Copper Corporation owned by Grupo Mexico produced less by 9.5% than in 2010 partly due to the lowered head grade. Grupo Mexico's copper production in 2011 was up by 12.6%. The Central/South American producers seem to have been more inclined to produce the higher-priced copper than to produce molybdenum. Among the Central/South American producers, only Antamina, a producer of copper, zinc and molybdenum produced sizably more in 2011 than in 2010.

As the statistics in China are not properly consolidated, it is not easy to see the overall picture of the world's molybdenum market. On the assumption that these 9 majors produced 85% of the output by the western world excluding China, the total output of molybdenum in 2011 was, by estimate, 523 million pounds comprising 338 million pounds by the western world producers, and 185 million pounds, also an estimate, by China.

Imports and exports of molybdenum by China are also important for the world's molybdenum market, as China has been a big importer and at the same time a big exporter. According to China's Customs Statistics, exports in 2011 were 22.68 million pounds (cf. 30.14 million pounds in 2010) and imports were 18.54 million pounds (cf. 35.02 million pounds in 2010), resulting in an export surplus of 4.14 million pounds. In 2009 and 2010, the trade balance was import surplus, as China imported fairly large volume of molybdenum from the western world, however in 2011 China's imports substantially dropped by 47.7% from 2010. This big drop was one of the reasons of the weak molybdenum prices in 2011.

As mentioned above, the price of molybdenum oxide averaged over in 2011 was US$15.33/lb, of which breakdown by quarter was, <> Q1 (January - March): US$17.18/lb, <> Q2 (April - June): US$16.50/lb, <> Q3 (July - September): US$14.44/lb, <> Q4 (October - December): US$13.20/lb, continuously in decline. It sank even to US$12.80/lb early November, the lowest since October 2009, as the sentiment of oversupply gradually prevailed in the market. After bottoming out in January 2012, the price picked up to reach US$15/lb. The price was ranging between US$14.00 and 14.50/lb as of the end of February.

The large scale production loss at Thompson Creek mine, Idaho, U.S.A, owned by one of the majors, Thompson Creek Metals during the second half of 2011 has been causing a fear for shortage of spot materials. The mine, an open-pit, is in the process of fully changing the mining program in order to preferentially mine molybdenum-rich seams. During the transit period, output becomes inevitably lower, and is forecasted about 16 - 17 million pounds of molybdenum in concentrates during 2012. However the overall production by Thompson Creek Metals during 2012 is forecasted almost unchanged from 2011 at 28 million pounds, as the new concentrators at Endako mine, Canada already started full operation in February 2012, from which 10 - 12 million pounds of output during 2012 is scheduled.
data image
last modified : Fri 09 Mar, 2012 [11:10]
Copyright (C) 2004 The TEX Report Ltd. All Rights Reserved.