Global use of molybdenum reached a new record high of 537.1M lbs (243.62Mkg) in 2011, up 5.4% on 2010. Full-year figures from the International Molybdenum Association (IMOA) also show global production at a new record of 534.6M lbs (242.49Mkg) for the year, an increase of 4.3% on 2010.

The greatest use of molybdenum in 2011 was recorded in China, where use increased 13% from 148.5M lbs (67.35Mkg) in 2010 to 168.0M lbs (76.2Mkg) in 2011. Europe recorded the second biggest share with 133M lbs, (60.32Mkg) up 16.7% from 113.9M lbs (51.66Mkg) in 2010. The USA and Japan were the third and fourth largest users of accounting for 76.7M lbs (34.79Mkg) and 60.8M lbs (27.57Mkg) respectively.

North America remained the biggest molybdenum producing area in 2011, with production increasing to 183.1M lbs (83.05Mkg). Production in China rose to 177.0M lbs (80.28Mkg). South America was the third largest region, accounting for 129.7M lbs (58.83Mkg) in 2011, with other molybdenum producing regions contributing 44.8M lbs (20.32Mkg).

New figures for the fourth quarter of 2011, also released, saw China’s molybdenum production rise fractionally from 47.1M lbs (21.36Mkg) in the third quarter of 2011 to 47.4M lbs (21.50Mkg) in Q4. The same quarter saw North American production fall 14% from 45.9 (20.81Mkg) in Q3 to 39.4M lbs (17.87Mkg) in Q4, with production in South America rising just 0.6% from 31.9M lbs (14.46Mkg) in Q3 to 32.1M lbs (14.56Mkg) in Q4.

China used 44.5M lbs (20.18Mkg) in Q4 compared with 31.7M lbs (14.37Mkg) in Europe. The USA and Japan used 18.3 (8.30Mkg) and 15.0M lbs (6.80Mkg) respectively.

Molybdenum is added to steels and cast irons to improve strength, toughness, hardenability and weldability and in stainless steels to improve corrosion resistance. There are also numerous applications in the automotive, shipbuilding, construction, mining, chemical, oil & gas and energy generation industries.

In a separate report from CRU – ‘CRU Monitor – Nickel chrome molybdenum’ ( global production of stainless steel in 2011 is given as 33.365Mt and consumption of these three vital alloying elements are presented.