Monday, March 29, 2021

"The Moly Mystery. Why Is China Soaking Up The World’s Molybdenum?"

From Forbes, March 26:

Somewhere in China there is a warehouse stuffed to the ceiling with molybdenum, a tongue-twister metal which most people call moly and which has a number of interesting uses ranging from oil drilling pipe to the steel used in armaments.

Since the middle of last year, the price of moly has risen by more than 60% from around $7 a pound to $11.50/lb, down $1 on the peak of $12.50/lb reached earlier this month.

Not a widely-traded metal, nor one generally mined on its own, most moly is produced as a by-product of copper mining with the presence of moly in an orebody sometimes the difference between a mine being a profit (or loss) maker.

Last year, according to an analysis of the moly market by Macquarie, an Australian investment bank, the global market was over-supplied by around 45 million pounds thanks to a Covid caused drop in demand.

But this year the moly market is tipped to rebound with a deficit of 16 million pounds developing as demand outstrips supply.

The problem, which foxed the bank, is trying to understand the sudden shift in the market with the only explanation being that Chinese buyers were busy in the second half of last year soaking up the moly surplus and driving the price higher.

Massive Chinese Imports

“The big driver of the molybdenum price recovery last year was a massive rise in Chinese imports,” Macquarie said.

“Total net imports reached 100 million pounds, up from only 1.4m/lbs in 2019....