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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

Rio Tinto sells first Canadian scandium

3D printing company buys aluminum-scandium alloy billets Metal Tech News – March 17, 2021


Last updated 3/16/2021 at 5:55pm

Rio Tinto Amaero titanium scandium alloy dioxide Canada 3D printing laser


A powder bed at Amaero, a 3D metal printing company that develops parts for aerospace, defense and other industries.

Rio Tinto has made the first sale of aluminum-scandium alloy from its plant in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, offering a North American supply of scandium, a metal deemed critical to the United States and Canada.

This first batch of aluminum-scandium alloy from Rio Tinto's Quebec operations will be delivered to Amaero, an Australian-based company known for manufacturing large-format complex components in metal with laser-based metal 3D printing.

This alloy is to be made from the high-performance, responsibly produced, low-carbon aluminum from Rio Tinto's hydro-powered Canadian smelters and high purity scandium oxide from a newly installed plant at the global miner's Fer et Titane metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy.

Under the agreement, Rio Tinto will deliver to Amearo alloy billets produced at the Fer et Titane complex which has begun utilizing an innovative recovery process developed by Rio Tinto researchers to extract high purity scandium oxide from the waste streams of titanium dioxide production, without the need for any additional mining.

The billets will be processed by Amaero into powder for 3D printing and offered to the market for high-temperature applications.

"As a global leader in aluminum and the first producer of high-quality scandium oxide in North America, Rio Tinto is uniquely positioned to provide a secure source of aluminum-scandium alloy to the market," said Rio Tinto Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tolga Egrilmezer. "Aluminum-scandium alloy is the material of choice where lightweight, high-strength materials with thermal resistance and good welding properties is needed, such as for defense and aerospace applications. This first sale demonstrates our ability to develop products that meet our customers' needs, drawing our technical expertise and world class assets."

This sale was the result of Rio Tinto's previous decision to retrofit its titanium and iron facility in Quebec to recover scandium from its Lac Tio mine near Havre-Saint-Pierre, Quebec.

You can read about the development of the Fer et Titane complex to recover titanium waste at Rio Tinto moves into scandium market in the January 20, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.

"We are very pleased to enter this agreement with Rio Tinto to purchase the first commercial batch of aluminum scandium alloy from a North American source," said Amaero CEO Barrie Finnin. "This is an important step in the commercialization of this high-performance alloy that will be used in our breakthrough 3D metal printing technology. We look forward to working with Rio Tinto to progress the production of the alloy so we can commence the qualification process with key customers in the aerospace sector and other industries."

The companies will also collaborate to develop the supply chain for Amaero's high performance, high operating temperature aluminum alloy – "Amaero HOT AI" – and commercialize this lightweight material for applications in aerospace, defense, and other sectors.

Furthermore, this sale kicks off the efforts for a sustainable and low-carbon campaign launched by Rio Tinto earlier this year, called START, this labeling system has been designed using blockchain technology to allow customers, such as Amaero, to determine end products based on their environmental, social and governance credentials (ESG).

Australia sustainable supply chain START Fer et Titane Quebec green energy

Rio Tinto

The Fer et Titane (iron and titanium) metallurgical complex in Quebec, recently underwent a refit to produce valuable scandium oxide, the first modern producer in North America.

This is to enable end-users to make informed choices about the products they buy; to contribute to a sustainable future; and to differentiate between end products based on ESG standards.

More details regarding Rio Tinto's START campaign can be read at Rio Tinto STARTs transparency campaign in the February 10, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.

As the demand for raw materials climbs for the technology sectors, in particular, those minerals and metals used in the development of green energy technologies, a growing movement of responsibly sourced materials that align with customer and consumer green appeal is becoming more prevalent.

To set the stage, Rio Tinto shifted its modus operandi to accommodate this change and this transaction is the first of many in a future conscientious supply chain.


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