Global demand for molybdenum-bearing stainless and alloy steels rose sharply in 2010 and 2011, and is forecast to continue to rise. This is despite the prevailing economic uncertainty arising from the Eurozone debt crisis. The main industrial stimuli for this will come from the continuing transformation of the economies in China, India, Brazil and other smaller, mainly Asian, countries where the need for steels and other alloys able to operate in extreme conditions is expanding.
The long term price prospects for molybdenum, however, are uncertain. There appears to be sufficient existing mine capacity in 2012 and there is an additional 140ktpy under review of relatively low cost by-product molybdenum in new copper-molybdenum mining projects. On top of this, there is another100ktpy of potential supply in molybdenum-driven projects. The counter balance to this potential oversupply is that the global market for molybdenum is expected to grow by some 60ktpy by 2016. It is also highly probable that many projects on the drawing board will be delayed or postponed. Furthermore, production costs at a minimum of $12/lb in the large Chinese molybdenum-only mining industry should provide an effective floor price going forward.
The greater use of molybdenum steels, high performance alloys and catalysts, combined with robust growth in the economies of the 'BRIC' countries and other countries in Asia and South America, will ensure growing future demand for molybdenum. Return to higher growth in the developed economies of North America, Europe and Japan from 2013 onwards should also stimulate the molybdenum market.