Natural resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles.
What would our lives be like without mining? Imagine a world without transportation such as jet planes or railroads, without communications such as cell phones or radar, without decorative items such as art or jewelry, without buildings such as skyscrapers or parking garages, without defense systems items such as missiles or submarines, without medical care items such as X-rays or surgical tools. We wouldn’t have any of these things without mining and minerals.
Molybdenum (element #42, symbol Mo) is a metallic, lead-gray element, with a high melting point, 4,730 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 2,000 degrees higher than the melting point of steel, and 1,000 degrees higher than the melting temperature of most rocks. Molybdenum was discovered by Peter Hjelm in 1781.
The most important ore source of molybdenum is the mineral molybdenite; a minor amount is recovered from the mineral wulfenite. Molybdenum commonly is recovered as a by-product or co-product from copper mining. The U.S. produces significant quantities of molybdenite. The major producers of molybdenum in 2013 were China, the USA, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Canada.
Mineral Classification: sulfides
Molybdenite (MoS2); wulfenite (Pb(MoO4))
4.62-4.73 (molybdenite); 6.8 (wulfenite)
Crystal System: tetragonal, hexagonal
Color: Black, lead silvery gray (molybdenite); yellow, orange, red, gray, white (wulfenite)
Luster: metallic, vitreous
Streak: Bluish gray (molybdenite); white (wulfenite)
1-1.5 (molybdenite); 3 (wulfenite)
Fracture: subconchoidal, flaky
Molybdenum occurs as the principal metal sulfide in large low-grade porphyry molybdenum deposits and as an associated metal sulfide in low-grade porphyry copper deposits. Resources of molybdenum are adequate to supply world needs for the foreseeable future.
When molybdenum is found in low-grade copper deposits, it is typically mined through open pit methods and recovered as a by-product of the copper refining. When molybdenum forms its own low grade porphyry deposit, the concentration of molybdenum may be of enough grade to merit the cost of an underground operation.