During the past week, those of us who count ourselves as aficionados of the equity markets have been attempting to determine whether we've landed on a real bottom, or have temporarily settled amidst a bear rally. Market conditions aside, one stock in particular has been on a fairly consistent ascent this year.

The stock is Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold (NYSE:FCX), the largest publicly held producer of copper. Its shares have bounced from the high teens in the final two months of 2008 to a current level near $37. The main driver has been none other than the price of copper, which had plummeted from near $4.00 a pound as recently as July to near $1.30 immediately prior to year end. It now has recovered to the low $1.70s.

Will the ascent continue? There are certainly those who pay close attention to these trends who think so. Last month, for instance the Chicago-based Hightower Report, which follows all manner of commodities, entitled a repot "Copper to Shine in 2009." And perhaps even closer to the action, as this week dawned came the news that Freeport director Robert Day had recently acquired more than 600,000 shares of the company's stock for an average price of $35.36 per share.

Freeport, which, as its full name implies, produces copper and gold, is also one of the world's major purveyors of molybdenum, an important component in the making of high-grade and stainless steel. The company operates mines in the Southwestern U.S., Peru and Chile, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Beyond that, its Grasberg mining complex in Papua, Indonesia contains the largest deposit of recoverable copper reserves and the largest gold reserve in the world. Indeed, the company's strengths include its geographic diversity and long-lived reserves.

To some extent, Freeport runs in a pack with mining giants BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP), and Vale (NYSE:RIO), along with its fellow copper producer Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU). All have lifted off their November bottoms, but as one who, in a prior life, toiled for the company that owned what now are some of Freeport's Arizona mines, I suppose I'm a little prejudiced.

If you study Freeport's numbers from the past quarter, you won't be impressed by the $13.9 billion loss due to the asset writedowns involved. But in mid-February, the company managed to sell 26.8 million shares at $28 per copy, raising $750 million. It appears that there are others who also believe this company has a bright future. It almost certainly deserves some Foolish attention.

Freeport-McMoRan sports five stars as awarded by Motley Fool CAPS players. Have you given it a thumbs up or thumbs down?

For related Foolishness:

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has an unbendable disclosure policy.