Rio Tinto has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the Platina scandium project, a high-grade scandium resource in New South Wales, from Platina Resources Limited for $14 million.
The project, near Condobolin in central New South Wales, comprises a long life, high-grade scalable resource that could produce up to 40 t/y of scandium oxide, for an estimated period of 30 years, the company says.
Rio Tinto currently produces scandium oxide from titanium dioxide production waste streams at Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, Canada. Once operational, the Platina scandium project would enable Rio Tinto to more than double its annual scandium production.
Rio says this acquisition aligns with its strategic goal to grow in materials essential for the low-carbon transition.
Scandium is a rare, versatile and useful mineral for the green economy and energy transition. It is considered a critical mineral by the USA, Canada, Australia and many other countries.
Scandium oxide, meanwhile, 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.
Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive, Sinead Kaufman, said: “This acquisition supports our commitment to critical minerals and finding better ways to provide materials the world needs.
“It will enable us to further develop and grow with the global scandium market, complementing our existing scandium production in Quebec, where we have the expertise, technology and capacity to produce pure, highly reliable scandium through sustainable methods.”
The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.