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Rio Tinto acquires scandium project in NSW

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Global mining giant Rio Tinto has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the Platina scandium project from Platina Resources for a whopping $14 million.

The project, located in NSW, comprises a high-grade scandium resource that has the potential to produce up to 40 tonnes per annum of scandium oxide for an estimated period of 30 years.

Rio Tinto currently produces scandium oxide from titanium dioxide production waste streams at Sorel-Tracy in Quebec. Once operational, the acquisition of Platina could more than double the company’s annual scandium production, making it one of the leading producers of the rare and valuable mineral.

Scandium is a rare and versatile mineral that is critical for the green economy and energy transition. The mineral is considered essential by many countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Scandium is widely used to produce high-performance aluminium alloys that are lightweight, strong, heat-resistant, and corrosion-resistant. Scandium sees common use in aerospace, automotive, heat exchangers, sporting goods, 3D printing and energy transmission applications.

The element is also essential in the production of solid oxide fuel cells, which are used as a green power source for buildings, medical facilities, data processing centres, and niche products such as lasers and lighting.

Rio Tinto minerals chief executive Sinead Kaufman said the acquisition was in line with the company’s commitment to sustainable mining.

“It will enable us to further develop and grow with the global scandium market, complementing our existing scandium production in Quebec, where we have the expertise, technology and capacity to produce pure, highly reliable scandium through sustainable methods,” she said.

Last month, Rio Tinto began construction of its new billet casting centre in Alma, a smelter in Quebec. The project is set to increase capacity to cast low-carbon high-value aluminium billets by 202,000 metric tonnes.

The Alma smelter is located in Quebec and will be expanded to include new modern equipment such as furnaces, a casting pit, coolers, handling, inspection, sawing, and packaging systems. Commissioning is scheduled for the first half of 2025.

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