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Rio Tinto has found a way to extract Scandium from its titanium dioxide operation in Quebec, Canada. Source: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has sold its first batch of aluminium-scandium alloy to Australian metal additive manufacturer Amaero, which will be supplied from the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane (RTFT) metallurgical complex in Canada.

Construction of RTFT is under way and slated for completion in the second quarter of 2021.

It represents the first-ever North American supply source of scandium oxide.

The plant recovers high-purity scandium oxide from waste streams of titanium dioxide production and does not require additional mining.

The agreement will see Rio Tinto provide aluminium-scandium alloy billets for Amaero’s 3D printing technology.

Amaero plans to process the billets into powder and sell them to the market for high temperature 3D printing applications.

Rio Tinto aluminium vice president sales and marketing Tolga Egrilmezer said the company was well placed to deliver aluminium-scandium alloy to the global market.

“As a global leader in aluminium and the first producer of high-quality scandium oxide in North America, Rio Tinto is uniquely positioned to provide a secure source of aluminium-scandium alloy to the market,” he said.

“Aluminium-scandium alloy is the material of choice where a lightweight, high-strength material with thermal resistance and good welding properties is needed, such as for defence and aerospace applications.

“This first sale demonstrates our ability to develop products that meet our customers’ needs, drawing on our technical expertise and world class assets.”

Rio Tinto will also support development of a supply chain for Amaero’s high operating temperature aluminium alloy (Amaero HOT Al), which is set to be commercialised for applications in areas including the aerospace and defence industries.

“We are very pleased to enter this agreement with Rio Tinto to purchase the first commercial batch of aluminium scandium alloy from a North American source,” Amaero chief executive Barrie Finnin said.

“This is an important step in the commercialisation of this high performance alloy that will be used in our breakthrough 3D metal printing technology.”