US Miner Freeport's Molybdenum Output Up 3 Million lb in 2018

January 24, 2019, Phoenix, AZ — Freeport-McMoRan produced 95 million recoverable lb of molybdenum in 2018, up from 92 million lb the previous year, the US miner said Thursday.

Output in the fourth quarter was 26 million lb, up from 22 million lb a year earlier.

Molybdenum sales, excluding purchased material, hit 94 million lb at an average realized price of $12.50/lb last year, compared with 95 million lb at $9.33/lb in 2016. Q4 sales were 24 million lb at $12.75/lb, as against 24 million lb at $9.79/lb a year earlier.

Sales volumes for 2019 are expected to be around 94 million lb, including 24 million lb in Q1, Freeport said.

Freeport has two wholly owned primary molybdenum mines in North America -- the Henderson underground mine and the Climax open-pit mine, both in Colorado -- and also produces byproduct molybdenum from its North American and South American copper mines.

Production from the primary molybdenum mines totaled 35 million lb in 2018 -- 21 million lb from Climax, 14 million lb from Henderson -- up from 32 million lb the previous year.

Unit net cash costs for the molybdenum mines averaged $9.16/lb of molybdenum in Q4, up from $8.31/lb in Q4 2017.

Based on current sales volume and cost estimates, unit net cash costs for the molybdenum mines were expected to average approximately $8.90/lb of molybdenum for the year 2019, Freeport said.

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Climax Molybdenum is the world’s largest producer of molybdenum and molybdenum-based chemicals.