Jim Bob Moffett, Co-Founder of Copper Giant Freeport, Dies at 82

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James Robert “Jim Bob” Moffett, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Freeport-McMoRan Inc., has died. He was 82.

No cause was given in the statement released by the world’s largest listed copper producer.

Moffett, a legendary wildcatter and geologist whose credits include the Grasberg copper deposit in Indonesia, built Freeport into a giant of the mining industry during his two decades as CEO and three decades as chairman. On his watch, the company rode an unprecedented commodities boom, expanding to challenge Codelco as the world’s biggest copper miner.

Jim Bob Moffett, Co-Founder of Copper Giant Freeport, Dies at 82

“Jim Bob was a legend and visionary in the natural resource industry,” Chairman Gerald Ford and CEO Richard Adkerson said in the statement. His “passion and relentless drive as an explorationist led to the discovery and development of world class oil and gas and mineral deposits over his long career.”

Moffett graduated with a Bachelor of Science with special honors in geology from the University of Texas at Austin, where he played football on an athletic scholarship, and later received a Master of Science degree in geology from Tulane University.

He went on to co-found McMoRan Exploration Co. in 1969, later merging with Freeport Minerals Co. in 1981 to form Freeport-McMoRan. He served as CEO from 1984 to 2003 and chairman from 1984 to 2015. The company’s assets include its flagship mine at Grasberg, as well as copper and molybdenum operations in the Americas.

Moffett stepped down as executive chairman in 2015, as a commodity-price boom went bust, and was named Chairman Emeritus and consultant to the Freeport board.

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