Russia plans to significantly increase domestic scandium production within the next several years –in a move to reduce its import dependence and even to consider possible exports of the metal in the long term, according to recent statements, made by some leading Russian analysts in the field of metals and local media reports.
As scandium does not occur naturally in its pure form, its extraction is associated with the processing of large volumes of rare earth and uranium deposits. At the same time an intermediate product on the way to metal is scandium oxide (Sc2O3).
During the 1960s, about 200 kg of scandium oxide were produced in the world - mainly in the US. In the USSR, about 10 kg of scandium oxide were annually produced at the Novosibirsk non-ferrous metal plant prior to 1991. However the collapse of the USSR resulted in the suspension of such production.
Still, there is a possibility that the commercial production of scandium may be resumed in Russia already shortly, as the number of local companies consider such an option at present. One of them is the local aluminum producer Rusal, which technical director Viktor Mann in its recent interview with the Russian Expert business paper said that the company “has a technology for extracting scandium from red mud». However, the only problem, which massive scandium production in Russia is the high cost of such production.
Still, the Russian government considers scandium production as one of the strategic sectors of the domestic mining complex, while its further development is personally controlled by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
By: Eugen Gerden