By Michael Montgomery—Exclusive to Moly Investing News
The demand for molybdenum is dominated by its use as an alloying agent by the steel industry. However, scientists have been playing around with moly's unique attributes to make a whole host of new products that in the future may add a new dimension to demand. Included in these scientific breakthroughs is the use of molybdenum in thin-film (CIGS) solar panels, reducing the cost. The use of moly in hydrogen generation dramatically cuts the cost of production by eliminating platinum as the cathode material. Now scientists have found that molybdenum when used in the latest nano-computing technology can exponentially increase computing speed.
The discovery of a revolutionary material called Graphene, a material made from simple “pencil lead” and removing the atoms with scotch tape, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. The material is 1 atom thick, 100 times stronger than steel, and can drastically increase computing speed over silicon, will be the wave of future. But this material apparently has a flaw, electrical leakage. This is where molybdenum-disulfide comes in.
“Molybdenite can be made into smaller transistors than Silicon, down to 0.65 nanometers thick and 4-5 nanometers long… As important, it has properties that graphene doesn't have… First, it is a semiconductor… Second, the molybdenite turns off more efficiently than silicon does,” reported Jesse Emspak, for International Business Times.
What this is all means is molybdenum and graphene will revolutionize computing, by making it smaller, faster, and energy efficient. These materials also have the ability to generate and store energy, and may be used to generate electricity from waste heat in gas and coal power plants that loose around 50-70 percent of energy produced in the form of heat.
“These new materials could also be used in next generation batteries known as supercapacitors, which can deliver energy thousands of times faster than standard batteries and could vastly improve technologies such as electric cars,” according to Kate Kellend, for Reuters.
While this technology is still in early developmental stages, and requires a very small amount of molybdenum to produce the various applications, the scale and scope of the industries that they could revolutionize is massive.
Molybdenum mining news
Moly Mines (ASX:MOL)(TSE:MOL) Spinifex Ridge project came under some fire after the company stated that because of the strength of the Australian dollar earnings would be hurt, and funding for the project may have been in jeopardy. Funding for the project was coming from Chinese investment firm, Hanlong Mining Investment, which stated its commitment to the project in spite of the Australian dollar. The company announced that funding for the project is forthcoming.
“Moly Mines said it received a commitment letter from China Development Bank (CDB) for up to $250 million for its Spinifex Ridge molybdenum/copper project in Western Australia, sending its shares up 10 percent,” reported Amruta Sabnis, for Reuters.
The company also stated recently that it expects a one-million-ton a year production rate from the project which is starting up full production by June of this year. The company started the production late last year.
Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold, (NYSE:FCX) the worlds second largest copper producer, is working on its Climax molybdenum mine in Colorado. The mine was once the largest molybdenum mine in the world, supplying upwards of three-fourths of world supply. The company currently is listing 145 job openings in open-pit preparation a good sign that the company is ramping up its efforts to start production on the site. The company has stated that Climax could produce upwards of 30 million pounds of moly full production.
The company recently announced 2010 earnings, in which the company “reported a profit of $1.55 billion, or $3.25 a share, from $971 million, or $2.15 a share, a year earlier,” reported Matt Whitaker, for The Wall Street Journal. The company produced 72 million pounds of molybdenum, and sold 67 million pounds with an average realized price per pound of $16.47. The addition of upwards of 30 million pounds from the Climax mine would impact not only Freeport's balance sheets but the larger molybdenum market as a whole. Last year, global consumption of moly was below 500 million pounds, Climax's additional 30 million pounds, at full production, represents a significant supply side addition.