Caravel Minerals has launched a plan to leverage off record molybdenum prices, revealing it can produce the rare mineral as a by-product at its proposed 62,000tpa Caravel copper mine in WA.

A definitive feasibility study – the key document required to support an investment decision and secure funding for any mining project – is due in the first half of 2024.

And it could get a whole lot more attractive with the addition of a molybdenum recovery circuit, which will form part of the processing flow sheet for the DFS.

A PFS last year showed the mine would deliver around 62,000t of copper metal each year in concentrate over a 28 year mine life at all in sustaining costs of US$2.55/lb, with the project beginning operation in the back half of 2026.

But since the release of the study in July 2022 and an update two months later, molybdenum prices have surged.

Caravel Minerals’ (ASX:CVV) 2021 mineral resource boasts 83Mlbs of molybdenum, equivalent to around 38,000t, in association with copper ores.

Its analysis indicates it could recover around 60% of the molybdenum metal from plant feed grades of between 50ppm long term and 70ppm in the first five years of operation, with testwork indicating Caravel would be able to produce a separate concentrate grading around 50% Mo.


Caravel ASX CVV MolyB
Molybdenum production would take place as a final stage, producing a separate saleable concentrate to Caravel’s primary copper product. Pic: Supplied (CVV)


Moly prices at a 10-year high

Currently at multi-decade highs of over US$30/lb (~US$66,000/t), stirred by supply shortages in major markets China and Chile, the product is mainly used to make steel alloys with high strength and hardness.

This makes moly steel perfect for applications like drill rods, engine parts, armour plating, heating, drills and saw blades.

But it also has high-tech and agricultural applications, providing material used in wind turbines, a catalyst for the petroleum industry, ink for circuit boards, pigment and electrodes and legume fertiliser.

These are all essential products in a growing, urbanising and greening world, making molybdenum a crucial but rare metal on the future-facing commodity spectrum.

Global supply largely comes as a by-product in copper, tungsten and base metal mines and Australia currently boasts just one producer, the Cadia-Ridgeway gold mine owned by Aussie mining giant Newcrest, where a $95m plant was commissioned in 2022.

Caravel’s assessment is based on far lower levels of around US$20/lb, showing the moly circuit remains attractive at more conventional prices, making it a huge opportunity to add value to what is already Australia’s largest undeveloped copper mine.

Easy addition to current plan

As it will be a final stage, as in other copper and molybdenum operations, the additional circuit will have no impact on primary copper production or recoveries.

“With tightening supply/demand fundamentals for molybdenum concentrate and only a small incremental investment needed to capture additional value for the Caravel Project, the decision to include the Molybdenum Recovery Circuit in the initial development is a logical step and adds substantial additional value to the project,” Caravel managing director Don Hyma said.

“Molybdenum is a valuable by-product to the Project’s mainstream copper concentrate production and is common for this style of development, with precedents in many of the large South American porphyry copper operations.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Caravel Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.