Rio Tinto Expands Rare Earths Branch

by | 28. Apr 2023 - 13:04 | Economy

The Anglo-Australian metals and mining corporation will acquire the high-grade scandium resource Platina Scandium Project in New South Wales from Platina Resources Limited for $14 million.

Rio Tinto takes a step towards its strategic goal to grow in critical materials with the acquisition of a new scandium resource, Platina Scandium Project in New South Wales, Australia. The company estimates a possible 40 tons of scandium oxide per year over a period of 30 years from the project. The investment compliments the company’s existing scandium oxide production in Quebec, Canada. Rio Tinto produces scandium oxide from titanium oxide waste streams in Quebec.

Scandium is used to strengthen aluminum because it provides strength and flexibility simultaneously. Hence, scandium-based aluminum alloys find a plethora of applications from aerospace to heat exchangers but also in 3D printing. Furthermore, in oxide form, scandium is used to improve the performance of solid oxide fuel cells. This renders scandium crucial for clean energy production and energy transformation.

Rio Tinto is positioning itself to compete with market leader China in the rare earths industry. China accounts for 60 percent of the global rare earths mined, and the dominating role gets more pronounced further down the supply chain. Other nations are thus increasingly dependent on imports to satisfy the demand for energy transformation and electromobility. Rio Tinto announced last year to begin tellurium production in the U.S. as one of only two companies.

Photo: iStock/Atom

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