South America became the biggest molybdenum producing area in 2016 with 178.5 million lbs, a 14% increase on the total for 2015, according to new figures from the International Molybdenum Association (IMOA). China was fractionally behind with 178.3 million lbs, a fall of 2% compared with the previous year. North America was once again the third largest producing region after production fell from 140.1 million lbs in 2015 to 110.3 million lbs in 2016. Production in other countries fell from 39.1 million lbs in 2015 to 36 million lbs in 2016.

In total, global use of molybdenum in 2016 rose to 512.6 million lbs, up from the previous year’s total of 510.1 million lbs, according to figures from However, global production slowed in 2016, reaching a total of 503.2 million lbs, down from 517.1 million lbs in 2015.

The greatest usage of molybdenum in 2016 was in China, with a total of 186 million lbs, compared with 177.6 million lbs in 2015. Europe recorded the second biggest share with 131.4 million lbs, down from 135.1 million lbs in 2015. Usage in the USA was 52.1 million lbs, followed by Japan at 48 million lbs. Usage in the CIS was 18.9 million lbs, with other countries together totalling 76.2 million lbs.

Weaker demand

Figures for the fourth quarter of 2016, also released today, saw total molybdenum production increase by 10% from 128.1 million lbs in Q3 to 140.7 in Q4. Production in China increased from 45.9 million lbs to 53.3 million lbs, a 16% increase on the previous quarter and a 35% increase compared with Q4 in 2015. Production in South America was static at 45.4 million lbs, while production in North America was up from 27.5 million lbs in Q3 to 32.7 million lbs in Q4, a 19% increase on the previous quarter and a 14% increase from the same quarter last year. Production in other countries increased fractionally from 9.3 million lbs in Q3 to 9.4 million lbs in Q4.

Global usage increased 9% from 128.1 million lbs in Q3 to 139.4 million lbs in Q4. Usage in China increased from 45.4 million lbs in Q3 to 55.7 million lbs in Q4, an increase of 23% since the previous quarter and up 29% from the same quarter last year. Usage in Europe increased from 31.8 million lbs in Q3 to 33.8 in Q4, an increase of 6% since the previous quarter and up 3% from the same quarter last year. Usage in USA and Japan was 12.8 and 12.4 million lbs respectively in Q4. In the CIS and other countries, use decreased fractionally to 4.6 and 20.2 million lbs respectively.

‘These figures reflect the continuing weaker demand from the oil and gas industry in 2016,’ said Tim Outteridge, IMOA’s secretary-general.’ Both production and use were lower than the record highs of 2014. However, annual global use increased slightly, and both production and use increased in every quarter in 2016.’

This story is reprinted from material from the IMOAwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.