Scandium International to break scandium supply barrier
In April 2015 the Wall Street Journal reported scandium as hot topic in the mining industry with an annual market worth roughly $50 million from 10-15 tons.
But shareholders of Scandium International Mining Corp. (TSX: SCY) are looking to break through the supply barrier by providing the element to support a market starved for steady supplies.
President and CEO, George Putnam, “The demand for scandium has accumulated over the last 30 years — the problem is there is no supply to feed it. There’s a long list of potential applications for scandium if there was the scandium to supply these applications.”
My friends who are material scientists in the aluminum sector tend to get excited by the mention of scandium — it is a rare thing to see material scientists excited. Currently, the aluminum market represents the best opportunity for scandium as the addition of small amounts of scandium to aluminum alloys increase its mechanical strength significantly. The same applies to the automotive industry, but the price point of commercial alloys in the automotive industry is critical, more so than in the aircraft industry.
But it does not mean that scandium is limited to the aluminum market by a long stretch. A search for scandium on Patentscope, the database of the World Intellectual Property Office shows 3874 patents with scandium. Of these, 971 patents mention both aluminum and scandium. For example patent WIPO20150303165 shows an electronic application with a bonding wire containing a core containing aluminum as a main component and scandium in an amount between 0.05% and 1.0%.
Still according to the Wall Street Journal: Scandium’s scarcity has limited its use. Estimates are that if enough scandium were found, the solid oxide fuel cell market would consume up to five times the scandium it currently does.
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Aluminum-Scandium 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 aluminum-scandium alloys that should expand to a much wider range of applications, once adequate supplies of commercially priced scandium are available for purchase.
Current supply is sourced from low-grade stockpiles or as a by-product from other mineral processing operations. These limited supply sources have resulted in high market prices and inadequate volume for wide-scale adoption.
Although scandium is a common element, economic concentrations of scandium are rare. Estimates vary from 18 to 25 ppm, which is similar to cobalt (20–30 ppm) but is distributed sparsely and occurs in trace amounts in many minerals.
Scandium International Mining Corp. owns a 80% interest in the Nyngan Scandium Project, located in New South Wales, Australia, approximately 500 kilometers northwest of Sydney. The Company completed a preliminary economic assessment1 for the project in October 2014 and is focused on advancing the Nyngan Scandium Project to feasibility, with the objective of being the first company to achieve production from a primary scandium mine. Subject to financing, Scandium International expects to complete a feasibility study for the project in late 2015, with the objective of commencing mine construction in 2016 and scandium production in 2017. The Company owns two additional scandium exploration properties: the adjacent Honeybugle Scandium property in NSW, and the Tordal Scandium/REE property in southern Norway.
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>