The United States is a major player in the molybdenum market, as is evidenced by the fact that in 2011 it was the second-largest producer of the metal, preceded only by China.
Below is a look at the mining environment in the US followed by an overview of some of the companies producing and exploring for the metal in the country.
Economic and geopolitical conditions
The economic and geopolitical conditions in the US are quite stable. Mining companies can operate there without having to worry that their business will be derailed by civil unrest, and permits and claims are well regulated.
With regard to moly, the one obstacle that can come up is environmental controversy. Moly mine tailings can have deleterious effects on the land and its inhabitants as they contain mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, zinc and traces of elements like radium and uranium, according to Cultural Survival. The likelihood of water-borne contamination is high, as radioactive elements are soluble in water.
However, there are no laws blocking new moly projects, and there are ways to safely dispose of tailings.
US moly mining
Active moly miners in the US include:
- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) owns the Climax and Henderson moly mines in Colorado. Its other moly-producing projects in the US include the Bagdad, Morenci and Sierrita mines in Arizona and the Chino mine in New Mexico.
- Thompson Creek Metals Company (NYSE:TC) has two operating moly mines and a number of exploration and development properties. The Thompson Creek mine is a moly project located in a historic mining area in Idaho. It has been operating continuously since 1983 and is a large open-pit mine with its own mill and tailings facility. The mill puts out approximately 28,000 tons of ore a day, as per the company’s website. The moly disulfide concentrate produced at the site is further processed to become technical-grade moly oxide at another facility. Thompson Creek’s other moly mine is not in the US.
US moly exploration and development
Companies exploring for and developing moly projects in the US include:
- General Moly (TSX:GMO,NYSEMKT:GMO) is developing the Mt. Hope and Liberty moly projects and soon expects to become the world’s largest primary moly producer. Respectively, the projects contain 1.3 billion and 700 million pounds of proven and probable moly reserves.
- Wyoming-based US Energy (NASDAQ:USEG) was granted approval in June for its plan for a moly mine just outside Crested Butte on Mount Emmons. This project has been in the works since 1970, but local residents have not been in favor of it. The next step will be an environmental impact statement from the company, which expects to create a mine that will be able to produce for 33 years at a volume of 12,600 tons of ore a day.
- Entree Gold (TSX:ETG,NYSEMKT:EGI), a Canadian junior resource company, holds the advanced Ann Mason copper-moly project in Nevada. It is expected to yield an open-pit mine with a life of 24 years.
- Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX:NDM,NYSEMKT:NAK) is developing the Pebble deposit, a source of environmental controversy in the past. The current resource estimate shows that the site contains 3.3 billion pounds of moly in the measured and indicated category, along with 2.3 billion pounds of moly in the inferred category.
- Exploration and development company American CuMo Mining (TSXV:MLY) is focused on bringing its Idaho-based CuMo project towards feasibility. It has the potential to become one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost primary moly mines.
As the activities of these companies show, moly exploration, development and production are ongoing in the US, and there are many opportunities to invest in every stage of the process.