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Unique carbonisation technology for extracting scandium from red muds developed by RUSAL's ETC has resulted in the Company becoming one of the world leaders in the production of this rare earth metal.
Research in this area has been in progress since 2013 as part of one of the Company's key technical development areas — 'Development of Waste-Free Production Technologies', in which there were several prerequisites. RUSAL has got the world's largest reserves of scandium in accumulated red muds – estimated at about 32,500 tonnes; while the mud stored at landfills is already ready for processing, there is no need for additional spending on its mining and grinding. Scandium itself is in demand in many industries as an alloying material, including the aluminium industry.
The technology for producing scandium oxide developed by RUSAL’s engineers is fundamentally different from the solutions of other companies. In particular, it is adapted to the technological cycle of alumina production, and does not require additional use of acidic, toxic and fire-hazardous reagents. This technology does not generate water waste, and allows for the preparation of red mud after extracting scandium from it for further processing into other commercial products or for storage in an 'ultra-dry' way.
An industrial site to produce scandium oxide was launched at the Ural Aluminium Smelter, where a product with a purity of 99.4% is produced. The technology and process flow chart are constantly being enhanced, which results in the improvement of the concentrate quality whilst increasing the scandium yield.