Rio Tinto to Double Scandium Production with Acquisition of High-Grade Resource in NSW

Rio Tinto - Mining

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) has announced that it will acquire the Platina Scandium Project in NSW for $14 million. The acquisition of the high-grade scandium resource located near Condobolin could enable Rio Tinto to more than double its annual scandium production, which is currently produced from titanium dioxide production waste streams in Quebec, Canada.

The Platina Scandium Project comprises a long life, high-grade scalable resource that could produce up to 40 tonnes per annum of scandium oxide for about 30 years. Scandium is a rare and versatile mineral that is considered a critical mineral by many countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. It is one of the most effective elements able to strengthen aluminium, offering improved flexibility and resistance to heat and corrosion.

Scandium oxide is used to produce high-performance aluminium alloys in a range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, heat exchangers, sporting goods, 3D printing, and energy transmission applications. Scandium is also used to improve the performance of solid oxide fuel cells used as a green power source for buildings, medical facilities, and data processing centres, as well as in niche products such as lasers and lighting.

The acquisition of the Platina Scandium Project aligns with Rio Tinto’s strategic goal to grow in materials essential for the low-carbon transition.

“This acquisition supports our commitment to critical minerals and finding better ways to provide materials the world needs,” said minerals chief executive Sinead Kaufman.

Rio Tinto’s world-class aluminium business is also well-positioned to produce more high-performance aluminium-scandium alloys to meet global customers’ needs. The acquisition of the Platina Scandium Project demonstrates Rio Tinto’s continued dedication to critical minerals and finding better ways to provide materials for the world’s growing needs.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023, and once operational, the Platina Scandium Project could significantly increase Rio Tinto’s annual scandium production. The company’s existing expertise, technology, and capacity to produce pure, highly reliable scandium through sustainable methods in Quebec make it well-equipped to develop and grow with the global scandium market.

The acquisition of the Platina Scandium Project by Rio Tinto underscores the importance of critical minerals for the low-carbon transition and the company’s commitment to finding better ways to provide materials the world needs. With its strong focus on sustainable methods, Rio Tinto is well-positioned to continue playing a leading role in the production of critical minerals.