James R. “Jim Bob” Moffett, the co-founder and former CEO of Freeport McMoRan, Inc., the Fortune 500 mining and exploration company once headquartered in New Orleans, where he became a business titan, died Friday. He was 82.
His son Bubba said Moffett died of COVID-19 complications Friday at his home in Austin, Texas, according to The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate. Moffett had been ill for several years.
Moffett stepped down as chairman of the company he co-founded in 2015. Now based in Phoenix, Freeport extracts copper, gold, and molybdenum from sites in North and South America and Indonesia. In 2019, the company’s revenue totaled approximately $14 billion.
The company began in New Orleans as McMoRan Oil & Gas, founded in 1969 by Moffett and partners Ken McWilliams and Mack Rankin. Letters from their surnames combined to form the company’s name. In 1981, the company merged with Freeport Minerals Co. to form Freeport-McMoRan.
Over the decades, in addition overseeing to the company’s oil and gas finds in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, Moffett, a petroleum geologist, is credited with helping discover and develop the Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia. The deposit is the largest gold producer and the third largest copper producer in the world.