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    NioCorp and IBC to develop aluminium-scandium master alloy for commercial applications

  • China Aluminium Network
  • Post Time: 2018/12/10
  • Click Amount: 178

    NioCorp Developments Ltd. is developing North America’s only niobium, scandium, titanium plant near Elk Creek, Nebraska. The project, once complete, is claimed to be the largest prospective producer of scandium in the world. NioCorp is sitting on 250,000 tons of niobium pentoxide, 2,300 tons of scandium, and 891,000 tons of titanium dioxide, and likely to be the only producer of its kind in the USA.

    Scandium is a niche metal to be used in high end products such as the aerospace industry and sports equipment. However, it has great potential as an alloy because it has almost as low a density as aluminium with a much higher melting point. When scandium is added to aluminium, it creates a strong lightweight alloy with excellent resistance to corrosion and good weldability and melting point. Aluminum-scandium alloy can be 10-100% stronger than conventional aluminium alloys and has been used in Russian MIG fighter planes. A new study shows that scandium aluminium alloys can save approximately $9 million costs in the value of a single B737 -sized jetliner.

    NioCorp announced the successful production of an aluminium-scandium master alloy in October in collaboration with IBC Advanced Alloys. NioCorp and IBC intend to utilize the master alloy in programmes to help companies that intend to use the alloy for commercial applications. They would investigate and develop applications for scandium alloys for a range of end–user markets.

    Mark A. Smith, CEO and Executive Chair of NioCorp and Chairman of the Board of IBC, said: “This is almost certainly the first aluminium-scandium master alloy made in the United States in some years. We look forward to the possibilities presented by the establishment of a domestic U.S. production capacity for aluminium-scandium master alloys that utilize scandium mined and purified in the U.S.”

    NioCorp’s Elk Creek Critical Minerals Mine and processing facility in Nebraska is expected to produce more than 100 tpy of scandium oxide when fully operational.

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