Climax 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 by Charles J. Senter on the western slope of Bartlett Mountain. Years later, in 1895, Colorado School of Mines Professor Rudolph George identified the Bartlett Mountain samples as molybdenite (molybdenum disulfide). Finally, in 1918, Max Schott, a miner and businessman, formed Climax Molybdenum Company to recover and process the metal.
Although a relatively small operation, URAD performed an important role in the company history. The property was closed in 1974. The metal immediately found use as a replacement for tungsten in some metallurgical applications. The primary use was in Allied efforts at producing armor plating and large gun barrels during World War I. With the end of the war, the uses for molybdenum momentarily disappeared and the company shut down. After restarting in 1920, we developed markets for molybdenum in both metallurgical and chemical applications.
In 1957, Climax Molybdenum Company merged with The American Metal Company (Limited) to form American Metal Climax, Inc.; the company was renamed “AMAX Inc.” in 1974. In 1993, AMAX merged with Cyprus Minerals Company to form Cyprus Amax Minerals Company.
Following the acquisition of Cyprus Amax by Phelps Dodge in 1999, Climax Molybdenum became a subsidiary of Phelps Dodge Corporation. In 2007, following the acquisition of Phelps Dodge, Climax Molybdenum became a Freeport-McMoRan company.
If you wish to know more about the exciting history of the Climax mine and company, please refer to "Climax – The History of Colorado’s Climax Molybdenum Mine, [ISBN 0-87842-354-0]" written by Stephen M. Voynick. Mr. Voynick’s book was published in 1996 by Mountain Press Publishing Company in Missoula, Montana.