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Steady growth in molybdenum demand predicted
Tim Outteridge, Secretary-General of the International Molybdenum Association (IMOA) told delegates at the Argus Metals Week conference in London that end use demand for molybdenum is forecast to increase by an average of 3.6% in the period to 2024.
In a presentaton entitled ‘Molybdenum market overview and downstream uses’, Mr Outteridge reviewed global molybdenum production and use in 2015, noting a reduction of 9% in use and 10% in production compared to 2014.
He commented that the reduction in use was principally related to a significant fall in demand from the oil and gas sector. This was due to the effect of the low oil price and its impact on exploration and production where molybdenum-bearing steels are widely used. Slower growth in China had also had an impact. However, most other sectors showed only small reductions, with a couple showing modest increases.
Mr Outteridge then outlined a number of sectors expected to generate future demand for molybdenum through use in applications influenced by global megatrends.
Automobile lightweighting is one such area, where thinner guage high-strength steels, many of which contain molybdenum, are used to reduce total vehicle weight for greater efficiency. Molybdenum also plays a key role in hydrodesulfurization of fuels. Using molybdenum-based catalysts, this technology has already achieved a 100-fold reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from the European vehicle sector since 1993 and will play an important role in the future as emissions standards are tightened across the world.
Thanks to its resistance to corrosion, strength and performance at high temperatures as an alloy, molybdenum finds many uses in power generation, including boosting the efficiency of coal-fired power stations and in a range of applications in renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydropower. Non-fossil energy generation has grown considerably in recent years and is predicted to more than double in the period to 2020.
Commenting on the presentation, Mr Outteridge said: “I wanted to demonstrate that despite the current low price of oil and its impact on the molybdenum market, there are a wide variety of other applications which will support sustainable increases in demand.
“Assuming some recovery in the oil price in the future, independent research commissioned by IMOA shows that the wide mix of demand drivers supports a forecast increase in molybdenum demand at an average growth of 3.6% per year to 2024,” he added.
Notes for editors
IMOA is a non-profit trade association representing the interests of most of the world’s molybdenum producers and converters, as well as consumers and traders.
Molybdenum is added to steels and cast irons to improve strength, toughness, hardenability and weldability for numerous applications in the automotive, shipbuilding, construction, mining, chemical, oil & gas and energy generation industries.
In stainless steels and superalloys, it improves corrosion resistance and high-temperature performance and finds uses in many industrial applications. It is also used in a variety of products from catalysts and lubricants to pigments and paint.
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