Molybdenum is a silver-grey colored metal that is hard, malleable, and ductile in nature with excellent strength at high temperature, high melting point, and high thermal conductivity. It is highly resistant to heat, which makes it useful in the production of alloys of iron and steel. Molybdenum is extracted from molybdenite and the major molybdenite deposits are in the U.S., China, Canada, and Chile. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), China, Chile, the U.S., Peru, Mexico, and Armenia accounted approximately 95% of total global molybdenum production in descending order.
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Some of the leading players operating in the global molybdenum market include Centerra Gold Inc., Codelco Mining Company, China Molybdenum Company Limited, Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Anglo American plc., Cronimet Group, Jinduicheng Molybdenum Group Co., Ltd., Shaanxi Non-Ferrous Metals Holding Group Co., Ltd, Antofagasta plc., Grupo México, and S.A.B. de C.V.
Molybdenum is used in stainless steel, commonly in the range of 2 to 4%, which helps in improving the resistance to pitting in chloride environments and to fissure in Fe-Cr-Ni alloys and Fe-Cr alloys. This is one of the major factors driving growth of the molybdenum market. Furthermore, increasing demand for various steel such as stainless steel, structural steels, and others, particularly in China, fuels growth of this market. According to the World Steel Association, China is the largest producer of steel, by producing 803.8 million metric tons in 2015 and it was increased to 808.4 million metric tons in 2016.
However, molybdenum fumes and dust produced during metalworking or mining may be toxic if ingested, which is expected to hinder growth of the global molybdenum market.
Among end-use industries, the automotive segment is expected to witness a significant growth in the near future. Molybdenum alloy is used in various automotive parts such as vehicle’s flywheel, clutch, and other parts, owing to its excellent strength to weight ratio, which makes molybdenum a vital material in automotive vehicles. Growing automotive industry results in increasing demand for molybdenum, thereby fueling the molybdenum market growth. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the automobile market was valued at US$ 74 billion in 2015 and is expected to increase up to US$ 300 billion by 2026.
Among applications, the fertilizer segment is expected to show a significant growth in the global molybdenum market over the forecast period. Various manufacturers are focusing on launching new products and plant expansion to expand their product portfolio and to cater to increasing consumer demand, which in turn is driving growth of this segment. For instance, in April 2018, Artal Agrinutrients launched Artal Rice, which is a liquid mixture of molybdenum, boron, and zinc to improve yield and to increase number and size of grains.
North America holds a significant position in the global molybdenum market growth, owing to growing oil and gas industry in the region. Shale gas revolution has paved path to increasing exploration and production activities in this region. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the total shale production in the U.S. in 2014 was 13.4 trillion cubic feet, which raised up to 15.2 trillion cubic feet in 2015. Increasing offshore E&P activities in shallow and deep water contributed to the growth of oil and gas chemicals in this region.
Furthermore, increasing mining production of molybdenum results in growth of the molybdenum market. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), in the U.S., mine production in 2016 was 35,800 metric tons, which increased up to 44,600 metric tons in 2017.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region in the global molybdenum market over the forecast period. This is owing to increasing demand for stainless steel in various end-use industries such as automotive, energy and heavy industries, and others in emerging economies such as China. According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, a department of the Australian Government, stainless steel production in China was around 25 million tons in 2016, whereas, Japan was the second largest market for stainless steel production accounting for 3.3 million tons in 2016.
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