Freeport-McMoRan: Producing Molybdenum to Strengthen Our National Defense

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. is a leading international mining company with headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. Freeport-McMoRan operates six mines across Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, producing significant amounts molybdenum – an important metal for the national defense industry.

Molybdenum is a refractory metal that readily forms hard, stable carbides and has the sixth-highest melting point of any element. Molybdenum is most commonly used as a high-temperature, corrosion-resistant metal alloy in steel, cast iron and super alloys.

It enhances strength, toughness, and resistance to wear and corrosion. This versatility makes molybdenum a fixture in contemporary military-industrial technology, which increasingly requires materials that can withstand high stress, expanded temperature ranges and highly corrosive environments, all without significantly expanding or softening.

Molybdenum can be found in aircraft engines, wings and rudders; rocket nozzles and valves; satellite and spacecraft coatings; missiles; and other machinery that requires high-temperature connectors.

Freeport also produces another refractory metal important for the national defense industry. Rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust. It is a silvery-gray metal with the third highest melting point of any element. It is obtained as a by-product of the extraction and refinement of molybdenum and copper ores.

Nickel-based super alloys containing rhenium can be found in high temperature parts in jet engines. These alloys contain up to 6% rhenium, making jet engine construction the largest single use for the element. The second-most important use is as a catalyst: rhenium is an excellent catalyst for hydrogenation and isomerization, and is used in catalytic reforming of naphtha for use in gasoline.

Without molybdenum and rhenium, we would not have these critical military technologies. Freeport-McMoRan produces the molybdenum and rhenium that helps transport troops overseas, gives our airmen and airwomen flight, and keeps our troops safe.

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