Aluminium billet, Boyne Smelters

Scandium

Considered a critical mineral by countries including the United States, Canada and Australia, scandium is a rare, versatile and useful metal.

Scandium is the most effective known microalloying element that can strengthen aluminium, while also offering improved flexibility, resistance to heat and corrosion, and lighter weight.

For this reason, military and civilian aircraft have used aluminium-scandium alloys for decades to improve fuel economy, manoeuvrability and range. These alloys are used in the aerospace, energy (for solid oxide fuel cells), automotive, and 3D printing industries.

They’re also used in sporting equipment, such as baseball bats, lacrosse sticks and bicycle frames, because of their lightweight properties – bicycle manufacturers estimate that scandium reduces the weight of their aluminium frames by up to 15%.

Scandium can also be found in electronic ceramics, lasers, LED lighting, glass and many more applications where its unique properties make it a valuable addition.

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Extracting a critical mineral from waste

Although it’s available all over the world, scandium is usually only found naturally in very small amounts, and is usually mixed up with other minerals and metals. So it can be hard to find, extract and process.

Our Element North 21 scandium operations

Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Quebec Operations

We’ve developed a new way to sustainably extract and produce high-purity scandium oxide from the waste streams of titanium dioxide production at our RTIT Quebec Operations, without the need for any additional mining. In May 2022, we produced the first batch of this high-purity scandium oxide at our commercial-scale demonstration plant in Sorel-Tracy, Canada, making us the first North American producer of this critical mineral.

Burra™ project

The Burra project located in New South Wales, Australia, offers a long life, high-grade scandium oxide resource that has the potential to become a primary scandium operation in Australia.

Scandium download

Scandium from Rio Tinto
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