42 Mo 95.94

Mo - Molybdenum

See metal norms for Molybdenum

Chemical Element Molybdenum Melting Point °C 2617
Chemical Symbol Mo Boiling Point °C 4612
Atomic Number 42 Density g/cm3 10.2
Atomic Weight 95.94 Oxide MoO2, Mo2O3, MoO3


Molybdenum is a lustrous, silvery metal and is a member of Group 6 of the Periodic Table. It is the 54th most abundant element within the Earth’s crust. The metal is fairly soft when pure, and it is attacked slowly by acids. Molybdenum has the 6th highest melting point of all the elements and is also one of the best thermal conductors.


The soft, black molybdenum mineral, molybdenite (molybdenum sulphide, MoS2), looks very like graphite, and the two were often confused. Even when the distinction was made, molybdenite was still mistaken as a lead ore until, in 1778, the Swedish chemist, Carl Scheele, published an analysis of the mineral and showed that it was neither lead nor graphite. Scheele passed the matter on to his friend and colleague Peter Jacob Hjelm, also of Sweden. Hjelm was able to extract a pure sample of the metal and announced his discovery in the autumn of 1781, naming it molybdenum after the mineral from which it was found, molybdenite.


World reserves are estimated at 19 million tonnes located principally in China (40%), the USA (30%) and South America (13%). World production is currently around 190,000 tonnes of molybdenum per annum with the majority as a by-product coming from copper porphyry mines in the USA, Chile, Peru and Canada, with the balance coming predominantly from primary mines in China, the USA, Canada and Russia.  Other producing nations include Mexico, Armenia, Mongolia and Iran.


Historically the market was in surplus, as the by-product production which comprised the majority of supply was not sensitive to market conditions, but in 2003 the market moved into deficit and it remains broadly in balance for now.

Steel accounts for nearly 75% of the world’s molybdenum demand, with the majority going into stainless followed by tool and high speed steel, HSLA and carbon steels.  Other uses include catalysts, lubricants and pigments.  The primary end use sectors include the chemical and petrochemical industries, oil and gas, automotive, mechanical engineering, power generation, construction, aerospace and consumer goods.

  • Emsley, John. Nature’s Building Blocks, An A-Z Guide to the Elements, New Edition, Oxford University Press, 2011
  • Gray, Theodore. The Elements, A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc, NY, 2009
  • Stwertka, Albert. A Guide to the Elements, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2012