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.