IMG_0226_JPGClimax Molybdenum Company, a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, is one of the world’s leading molybdenum producers. The roots of Climax run deep, tracing its name and origin to the early mining days in the high mountains of Colorado. The name “Climax” derives from the Climax railroad station which was built at the top of the Continental Divide as a place to uncouple helper locomotives after the long climb from Denver to the mining town of Leadville.

In 1879, a large, gray mineralized outcropping was discovered on the western slope of Bartlett Mountain. It was not until 1895 that it was identified as molybdenum. Later, in 1916, Climax Molybdenum Company was created to recover and process the metal. World War I caused tungsten demand to soar and severely strain its supply, and as a result, molybdenum was substituted for tungsten in many hard and impact resistant steels. Climax played a major role as contributor to the Allied efforts during World War I. With the end of the war, the uses for the metal momentarily disappeared and the company shut down. After restarting in the 1920’s, Climax developed markets for molybdenum in both metallurgical and chemical applications and operated almost continuously through the 1980’s. Climax

In 2007 Climax became a Freeport-McMoRan company. In 2012, Freeport-McMoRan invested $760 million and Climax Molybdenum began commercially producing molybdenum for the first time in 18 years at the Climax Mine.

In 2016, molybdenum production at Climax amounted to 16 million pounds.

In 2017, molybdenum production amounted to 20 million pounds and approximately 360 people were employed here.

Climax Molybdenum has demonstrated a commitment to environmental protection by integrating mining operations with our reclamation projects. And, many of our reclamation projects have been recognized by the State of Colorado.

McMoRan Colorado, Climax Mine Climax Operations Fast Facts

  • Climax Mine is located 13 miles northeast of Leadville, Colorado
  • Includes a 25,000 metric ton-per-day mill facility
  • The available mining fleet consists of nine 177-metric ton haul trucks loaded by two hydraulic shovels with bucket sizes of 34 cubic meters, which are capable of moving an average of 90,000 metric tons of material per day
  • Approximately 360 employees work at Climax
  • To view the economic impact of Freeport-McMoRan in Colorado, click here
  • To find out more about the sustainable development projects at Climax, click here
  • This operation encompasses approximately 14,350 acres — consisting primarily of patented mining claims and other fee lands
  • Life of Mine is through 2026

Key Mine Statistics

The open-pit mine operation involves drilling, blasting, loading by shovel and truck haulage of the mined material. Lowgrade, stockpiled ore is expected to be processed in the last three years of the project. Two existing waste rock stockpiles will be built at a 3:1 slope to facilitate the reclamation process that will occur concurrently with mining activities.

  • Open pit is approximately 1 to 1.5 miles in diameter
  • Current pit is 1,900 ft deep; final pit will be 3,000 ft deep
  • Mining rates currently average 70,000 st/d and are expected to peak at 110,000 st/d over the next 10 years
  • 110 people work in the open pit
  • Consume ~3 mm gallons of diesel per year


Consistent with our view of “greenfield opportunities at our brownfield locations,” we continue to explore near our existing mines with a focus on opportunities to expand reserves that will support additional future production capacity. We have significant efforts focused on targets at Climax.

Climax Water Treatment Plant140730 Plant (1)

Climax Molybdenum Co., recently inaugurated a $200 million Water Treatment Plant as part of its comprehensive water management system. The new Water Treatment Plant provides a state-of-the-art, stand-alone process that can treat up to 14,000 gallons per minute. Extensive safety and environmental controls have been built in to the plant to assure compliance with state and federal discharge requirements.