May 2009

Molybdenum, served with beer

A transition metal and a Germanic elixir enliven the CIM Los Andes Branch annual meeting

By S. Tarbutt


On December 15, the CIM Los Andes Branch held the last monthly meeting for 2008. A lecture was given by Gabriel Gutierrez, vice president, engineering development for Molibdenos y Metales S.A., or Molymet, as it is more generally known. The company produces various molybdenum commercial products as well as rhenium.

Molymet was formed in 1937 to process molybdenum concentrates in Chile, and has grown in size to represent some 34 per cent of the molybdenum and 70 per cent of the rhenium world markets. It now has other plants in Mexico, Germany and Belgium, and operates in the United States and China. It is listed on the Santiago stock exchange, and has ISO 14001 as well as OHSAS 18001 accreditation.

An interesting and varied review was presented using PowerPoint graphs and photos of the organization, the processes, the plants in the various countries, future expansion plans — including a new plant in northern Chile at Mejillones port — as well as the uses, and the shrinking market and price of molybdenum. The presentation was followed by questions from a clearly attentive audience of 50 people that included students, suppliers, engineering and mining companies, and accounting and legal personnel.

To fulfill the other objective of the meeting — that of providing a setting for an open exchange among industry personnel — the evening concluded with a buffet prepared by the Radisson Santiago Hotel and was accompanied by an excellent Chilean beer, a worthy heritage of the German settlements that made their home in the middle south of Chile in the 19th century.

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