Scandium International advances Nyngan Scandium Project
Scandium International Mining Corp. (TSX: SCY) reported progress toward Nyngan Scandium Project, the world’s most advanced pre-mining scandium-alone mining undertaking.
The positive metallurgical results confirmed previously recommended programs listed in a 43-101 filing for its Nyngan, located in New South Wales, Australia.
At completion, the project is expected to become a centerpiece of the expansion of the scandium-aluminum (Al-Sc) industry.
The current supply of scandium is a by-product, which has restricted the adoption of the metal in industrial processes, including scathe addition of scandium into various aluminum alloys. The addition of 0.1 to 0.5% scandium in aluminum alloys produce stronger, lighter, heat and corrosion resistant, weldable aluminum products. For example the aircraft industry depends on advanced aluminum alloys, and would incorporate Al-Sc alloys if consistent scandium supply were available. The automotive sector is increasingly incorporating aluminum alloys to achieve weight reductions and better fuel efficiency. Al-Sc alloys are also used today in bicycles, golf clubs and other sporting accessories where both strength and lightness are important. These applications represent pioneering uses for Al-Sc alloys that should expand to a much wider range of applications, once adequate supplies of commercially priced scandium are available for purchase.
To support market development Scandium International appointed Dr. Nigel J. Ricketts to the Nyngan Project team as Vice President, Project and Market Development. Dr. Ricketts is a metallurgist with a 30-year career in mine project, engineering, flowsheet design, and advanced research in metallurgy and alloy development. His career spans numerous specialty, base, and precious metals projects, including projects and processes targeting magnesium, aluminum, gold, copper, lateritic nickel, palladium & PGM’s, lead-zinc, and scandium.
Adding to the metallurgical understanding of the Nyngan Project, the results are summarized as follows:
- Pressure leach test work achieved 88% recoveries, from larger volume tests,
- Settling characteristics of leach discharge slurry show substantial improvement,
- Residue neutralization work meets or exceeds all environmental requirements as presented in the DFS and the environmental impact statement (“EIS”),
- Solvent extraction circuit optimization tests generated improved performance, exceeding 99% recovery in single pass systems, and
- Product finish circuits produced 99.8% scandium oxide, completing the recovery process from Nyngan ore to finished scandium product.
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To perform the test work a series of fifteen (20 liter) HPAL tests were conducted at SGS in Perth between February and April 2016. The results of these tests augmented earlier leach performance data, and also provided leach solution for downstream tests, where additional optimization data was also sought. The feed-stream source of scandium in each case was Nyngan limonite resource, graded at approximately the head grade assumed in the DFS.
Further work was conducted on residue chemistry as well. The process for residue neutralization was fully tested, and environmental requirements for tailings disposal at the project site were met.
The process flowsheet for producing final scandium product has also been confirmed by additional test work using the solutions produced at SGS. These solutions were delivered to Negron Laboratories in Brisbane, where we have set up a mini solvent extraction (SX) pilot plant to test process variants, to produce loaded strip liquor, and to produce product-grade scandium oxide. The results of this work produced 99.8% scandium oxide, again confirming the process is capable of generating high purity scandium product in a very simple, single-stage operation—this time directly from Nyngan laterite resource. Scandium oxide grades of 99.8% exceed the requirements of the aluminum industry for use in aluminum alloys.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>