On course to build the world’s first primary scandium mine
Scandium is a silvery-white metallic element which has historically been classified as a rare earth element. Scandium has long been recognized as a valuable commodity. Economic concentrations of scandium are rare. Supply currently is sourced from low-grade stockpiles or as a by-product from other mineral processing operations. Limited supply sources has resulted in high market prices and the wide spread uptake of scandium products has slowed because of this. The problem is not the demand and the potential markets available for the metal, but the supply.
Globally the scandium market has a limited number of players, with Scandium International Mining Corp. leading the market with a share of 11%, and NioCorp Development Ltd being the only manufacturer of scandium in the North American market.
By 2023 the scandium market is expected to reach a volume of 24,000 kilograms due to demand from its use in the growing electronics, LED & lasers, and battery markets. Increased demand in the aerospace and automotive industries will also contribute to the growth of the scandium market. One of the most important uses attracting the aerospace industry is aluminium-scandium alloy used during the manufacturing process of the aircraft. In trace amounts of less than 0.5% the aluminium alloy is strengthened allowing for up to a 20% weight reduction saving as much as 70 kilos of weight on a single aisle aircraft.
Aluminium-scandium alloy in airplanes can save weight and hence give significant fuel savings
Scandium International Mining Corp. (TSX: SCY) owns a 100% interest in the Nyngan Scandium Project, located in New South Wales, Australia. Scandium International’s New South Wales lateritic clay belt, represents a recent game-changing discovery of scandium grades approximately four times the grade of existing sources. The resources are surface mineable enabling the company to deliver scandium at a large enough economical scale to promote much wider use and development of the metal.
On February 19 2019, the Company announced an update on select aluminium casting trial results undertaken by Eck Industries Inc with highlights including: Alloy employing cerium and scandium is showing superior resistance to permanent strength erosion in high temperature environments, with significant scandium strength gains observed in both ambient and post-heat exposure.
Eck is currently focused on improving high temperature stability in certain casting parts they manufacture, and has filed patent applications on a novel alloy exhibiting superior heat tolerance properties, using cerium, and scandium. Metal fatigue in aircraft is significant in constant temperature changes and adding scandium/cerium alloy will give greater strength, longer life and eventually safer aircraft. Early results show this cerium-magnesium-scandium alloy fully recovers 100% of yield strength after the hi-temperature test, dramatically outperforming standard cast alloys, These results represent exceptional high-temperature stability from a commercially cast able aluminium alloy.
George Putnam, CEO of Scandium International Mining Corp. commented: “The R&D team at Eck Industries has made an important advance in high temperature aluminium alloys with their cerium-scandium casting alloy. They have taken collaborative early work with Department of Energy affiliated researchers on cerium, and combined that with their previous scandium work and testing, to create a new and superior temperature-tolerant alloy. A new aluminium alloy that extends those temperature range limits is then highly valuable, where higher cost alternatives such as titanium or stainless steel can be avoided. We expect the aluminium casting industry to follow this rapidly developing work with great interest.”
Eck Industries continue to develop these systems to maximize performance and minimize cost for structural applications in transportation, aerospace and the military giving Scandium International Mining Corp and their scandium more markets to supply to and an even greater demand.
Scandium International have completed their DFS (NPV8% USD 220m), have all permits in place, a large high grade resource with expansion upside, a low CapEx (<US$87m), and are seeking off-takes and project funding now. If all goes well the project could be producing by 2020/21.
Scandium International’s future in this developing market with such high demand looks as bright as the metal itself.
Scandium International Mining Corp. is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada.USA; and has a market cap of C$ 53.3 m.
Matthew Bohlsen is a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel.com. With a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment, and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning. He ... <Read more about Matthew Bohlsen>