AUZ enters research partnership to develop scandium alloy

Australian Mines Ltd (AUZ) remains committed to maximising revenue and value from its Sconi project in Queensland, Australia through the commercialisation of the high-purity scandium oxide which is scheduled to be produced alongside the project’s cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate output. It has entered into a partnership with United Kingdom-based technology company Metalysis, to support its continued research and development program around a solid-state process to produce a low-cost yet superior aluminium-scandium alloy for potential use by the automotive and aerospace industries.

The innovative solid-state process, originally invented by the University of Cambridge (UK) before being commercialised by Metalysis, has already demonstrated an ability to produce an aluminium-scandium master alloy containing 15 times the amount of scandium compared to conventional industry processes.

A master alloy is a pre-alloyed concentrate of, in this case, scandium metal that is added to an aluminium melt to produce the desired final product (being the aluminium-scandium alloy used by automotive and aerospace manufacturers, which generally contains only 0.2% scandium metal).

The ability for Australian Mines to produce a scandium-rich master alloy via Metalysis’ solid-state process that contains up to 30% scandium metal (compared to the industry’s current 2% scandium metal), could result in up to a 93% reduction in the amount of scandium master alloy required to produce the final aluminium – scandium metal requested by end-users.

This could equate to a significant reduction in the cost of producing the final aluminium – scandium metal to a level that the contract price offered by Australian Mines for these light-weight aluminium products are materially lower than most other specialty metals currently available on the market.

The ability to provide such a vastly superior aluminium-scandium master alloy to the automotive and aerospace industries at a substantially lower price may enable Australian Mines via Metalysis to deliver a highly cost-competitive scandium alloy that could position the company as a global leader in the emerging light-weight alloy sector.

Australian Mines is utilising its demonstration plant in Perth to deliver the high-purity scandium oxide to Metalysis, under this R&D partnership.