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Scandium is a silvery-white metallic transition metal, often classified as a rare earth element (REE). It is a strong grain refiner and an effective recrystallization inhibitor for aluminum alloys.
Scandium-aluminum alloys are gaining popularity due to their high strength, toughness and desirable properties. They are stronger at higher temperatures than wrought aluminum and they also have excellent corrosion resistance.
The scandium content in the alloy improves its tensile strength and ductility, as well as its stiffness and toughness. It is also used to strengthen the heat-affected zone (HAZ) of welded aluminum components.
Rio Tinto has developed a new process to extract high purity scandium oxide from by-products generated in the production of titanium dioxide at its metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec.
This innovative recovery system is scalable and can be applied to other metals. The process removes the need for additional mining, which will reduce production costs.
The new plant will provide the first North American supply source of high purity scandium oxide. It will also help Amaero to develop its supply chain for the high performance HOT Al aluminium alloy it has developed for 3D printing applications.
Mining waste recycling has several environmental benefits such as stimulating local industries, reducing natural resource intake, preventing environmental damage and creating financial assets. However, it is necessary to employ cost and benefit methods to assess the expenditure of waste reprocessing and the monetary value of recovered metals. This will help to identify alternative pathways for the production of REEs that have the least environmental burden.