UC Rusal, a leading aluminum producer based in Moscow, Russia, for the first time produced scandium oxide of the concentration exceeding 99%. The market price of the new product is up to $2,000 per kg.
The new product output commenced at the Urals aluminum smelter (UAZ) after the installation and launch of the pilot unit for the processing of scandium concentrate into scandium oxide. Experts at RUSAL Engineering and Technology Centre earlier developed the unique carbonization technology for scandium extraction from the red mud, and this technology makes no negative effect on alumina production. The pilot unit has made 96 kg of scandium per year and the project investment has totaled about 64 million rubles ($1 million).
Work is under way on the pilot unit aimed to further improve the technology to reduce the product costs. The scandium oxide produced will be used for the production of aluminum-scandium alloys at Rusal’s smelters. The use of the scandium as a micro-alloying element improves the consumer properties of aluminum alloys. Producing its own raw materials for the production of alloys will allow the company to reduce costs.
“Scandium has vast potentials in aerospace, transport and energy industries. As of today, global consumption of scandium oxide estimates at 10-15 metric tons per year. In this regard, RUSAL has plans to develop a modular unit capable of increasing the capacity keeping up with market demand. The production will rely on the company’s own raw material base and will fully meet demand not only in Russia, but globally,” said Victor Mann, director of RUSAL’s research and development.
Works on scandium extraction from red mud have been conducted at UAZ since 2013. During its earlier stage, the unit for the production of flux agents for ferrous metallurgy was launched within the framework of the project to create the technology and pilot production unit for red mud processing at UAZ.