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RUSAL makes aluminium-scandium headway

Russia – UC RUSAL has launched a pilot unit at its Urals aluminium smelter which will use red mud to produce up to 2.5 tonnes per annum of primary scandium concentrate for the production of alloys.

′Throughout 2014, investment in the project has totalled 74 million rubles (US$ 2.06 million),′ RUSAL points out. This sum has been added to the 150 million roubles (US$ 4.17 million) granted by Russia′s ministry of education and science in 2012. The pilot plant is designed to process primary scandium concentrate into a commercial product, where the content of scandium oxide will reach 99% by the end of 2014. The market price for this product ranges from US$ 3000 to US$ 5000 per kg, RUSAL notes.

′The use of scandium greatly improves the consumer properties of aluminium alloys,′ RUSAL explains. ′Producing our own raw materials for the production of alloys will allow the company to reduce costs associated with the purchase of such materials.′ The aerospace, automotive and railway industries are identified as potential consumers of aluminium-scandium alloys.

′The installation of the new pilot unit will help us achieve two important goals,′ says Victor Mann, RUSAL′s director of research and development. ′Firstly, using waste disposal in the production of valuable raw materials will reduce costs and increase efficiency, which will later be replicated at our other alumina refineries. Refineries will also become more environmentally friendly by recycling their own waste. Secondly, the company will benefit internally and economically in the long term as a result of the production of these high-value products.′


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