The leading global aluminium producer UC RUSAL launched a pilot unit at the Urals aluminium smelter (“UAZ”) to produce primary scandium concentrate using red mud for the production of alloys. The new unit is capable of producing 2.5 tonnes per year of primary scandium oxide concentrate. Throughout 2014, investment in the project has totaled 74 million rubles. The Company expects to create a pilot plant, along with the necessary technology, for the processing of the primary scandium concentrate into a commercial product, where the content of scandium oxide will reach 99.0% by the end of 2014. The market price for such a product ranges from USD3,000 – USD5,000 per kg. The capacity of a pilot plant will be 500kg per year.
The scandium oxide produced will be used for the production of aluminium-scandium alloys at RUSAL’s smelters. The use of scandium greatly improves the consumer properties of aluminium alloys. Producing our own raw materials for the production of alloys will allow the Company to reduce costs associated with the purchase of such materials. RUSAL sees the aerospace, automotive and railway industries as potential consumers of aluminium-scandium alloys.
Victor Mann, Director of RUSAL’s Research and Development, commented: “The installation of the new pilot unit UAZ will help us achieve two important goals. 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.” RUSAL began to introduce environmentally friendly and waste free technology in the processing of red mud at UAZ in 2013. The first stage of this project was the development and launch of a pilot unit for the production of flux agents for ferrous metallurgy.