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Molybdenum leads record mineral output Print E-mail
Written by Rocky Mountain News   
Monday, 08 January 2007
"In 2006, Henderson produced 37 million pounds of molybdenum - up from 2005's 32 million pounds. And Phelps Dodge plans to ramp up production to 40 million pounds this year.

The price of molybdenum, used to harden steel, has jumped in the past couple of years due to growing demand for steel in developing nations, especially China and India.

From $10 a pound in 1977, spot prices fluctuated wildly in the 1980s and 1990s before falling to an all-time low of $2.36 a pound in 2001. Since then, prices have risen and hit $42 a pound in May 2005 before settling in the mid-$20s range. In 2006, prices hovered around $26 a pound.

Phelps Dodge has earmarked up to $250 million to resume operations at the Climax molybdenum mine near Leadville. It has been closed for more than 10 years.

Since molybdenum was discovered in the Climax area around Fremont Pass north of Leadville in 1879, the mine has been shut down several times. After increased production during the world wars, it was shut down in the early 1970s, then in 1986 and the last time in 1995.

Since then, it has been on standby.

If reopened, Climax could produce 20 million pounds a year.

Currently, Phelps Dodge is conducting a feasibility study at Climax and has begun demolition of the mill near the mine.

Currently, the project is on hold due to snowy conditions, but work will resume in the spring, said Ken Vaughn, a Phelps Dodge spokesman.

"Climax is proceeding on schedule, and we are planning to resume production in 2009," he said."

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