Today’s news is about scandium, the future wonder metal, and where you’ll be most likely to find it!
The aircraft industry has a particular interest in scandium. When alloyed with aluminum, it can increase the strength and corrosion resistance of aluminum as well as allowing aluminum to be welded rather than riveted. As a result, aluminum-scandium alloys have the great potential to lead to a lighter aircraft weight, increased fuel efficiency, and a more cost effective aircraft production process.
For similar reasons as listed above, scandium is also generating interest in the automotive industry. It also has other uses like converting the chemical energy of the fuel used into electricty inside fuel cells.
It is assumed that less than 20 tonnes or 22.4 tons of scandium is currently produced worldwide. Most of it comes as a by-product fom mines located in Russia and China.
Australia is hoping to become a main producer of scandium. Australia has two major deposits in New South Wales that are large, high-grade, and concentrated, which means that scandium will be the main product, not just a by-product. One of the deposits is headed up by an Australian company and the other deposit is ran by a Canadian company headquarted in the United States.
Both feasibility studies have been either nearly completed or already completed which bodes well for production! The combined capital cost of the two operations will be around A$200 million (with around half of this for the processing plants, which include high-pressure acid leaching). Combined production will be around 80 tonnes; over four times current world production.
Before the projects can go ahead, the companies need to raise finance and conclude offtake agreements with players in the aircraft industry. Subject to these steps, construction in both cases is expected to commence in 2017, with first production by 2019.
This is GREAT news all around! For scandium producers, for the aircraft industry, and for companies like us that provide the earthmoving equipment to make it all possible! We are excited to see what the future holds in this industry.
*All information for this story was taken from mining.com.