Former Soviet states plan to take lead in global scandium market
Amid the ever growing demand for scandium in the global market, Russia and some former Soviet states plans to take the lead on the global scandium market.
According to predictions of analysts of the Russian Ministry of Energy, the demand for scandium will continue to grow in the near future and will be mainly driven by high-tech industries, such as microelectronics, aerospace and some other.
In the case of Russia, which operates one of the world’s largest scandium reserves, the local government together with some private investors, plan to significantly increase the volume of domestic scandium production during the next several years.
As part of these plans, Russia’s Energetichesky Projects company, one of Russia’s leading enterprises in the field of energy and mining, plans to invest up RUB 2 billion (US$40 million) in the establishment of production of scandium in the city of Krasnoturyinsk of the Ekaterinburg region of the country (Russia’s Urals).
It is planned that future scandium will be produced from the waste of Bogoslovsky Aluminum plant.
According to Andrew Anderzhanov, deputy Director General for Investment and Finance of Energetichesky Projects, the majority of future production will be sold for the needs of the US Bloom Energy, for further production of ceramic plates for electrolytes.
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This year the volume of production is expected to reach 1 tonne and is expected to be increased up to 10 tonnes during the next several years.
Russia will not be the only country, which plans to significantly increase the production of scandium during the next several years. The same plans has Kazakhastan, a former Soviet state, which is known for its rich reserves of minerals and rare earth metals. Several weeks ago Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state-owned nuclear holding company, has announced the establishment of a joint venture for the production of scandium with Uranium One, a Canadian based uranium mining company, which was purchased by Russian nuclear operator Rosatom in 2013. Production will take place at the capacities of some uranium mining enterprises in Kazakhstan.
It is planned that future production of scandium will be supplied for the needs of some Japanese companies, as well as Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) for the further use in high-tech projects in the field of aerospace.
The volume of investments in the project is US$100 million. The launch of production is scheduled for the beginning of 2016. The volume of production at the initial stage will be 6 tonnes per year. According to plans of the partners, the new venture may take up to 25%-30% of the global scandium market during the next several years.
In addition to Russia and Kazakhstan, the plans for the increase of scandium production are also considered by Ukraine, which has its own scandium deposits.
According to Vladimir Pavlishin, Professor of Mineralogy of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, recent geological studies show huge reserves of scandium in the Zhelty Vody field in the Dnepropetrovsk region, with the current content of one kilogram per tonne. According to Pavlishin, this makes the Zhelty Vody field one of the world’s richest, in terms of scandium content.
There is also a possibility that the production of scandium in Ukraine may be launched at the capacities of a local Zaporozhye Titanium Plant.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>