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Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Geological Survey of Queensland

Scandium opportunities in Queensland September 2014

What is scandium? The USA uses 20 kg of scandium a year to create high intensity
Scandium (Sc) is one of several strategic elements which have lights.
not been produced in significant quantities in the past, but which Fighter jets and hand guns. Scandium alloy is also used to
are now gaining importance for new technologies. make high strength hand gun frames for the same reason it is
used in sporting goodsit is light and strong. Russia uses the
Scandium, with an atomic number of 21, is technically not one
scandiumaluminium alloy in MiG fighter airframes. This use is
of the rare earth elements. However, the International Union of
likely to be more common as supplies of scandium increase.
Pure and Applied Chemistry includes scandium as the lightest
member in its rare earth element definition. It is included with a Defence and dentistry. Laser crystals of gadolinium scandium
group of elements such as yttrium, which is also included in the (or gallium garnets) are used in strategic defence applications
rare earths. and in dental lasers.

Scandium has a melting point of 1541C.


Where is scandium found?
Scandium is rarely found concentrated in a natural form Scandium is found in the minerals thortveitite, euxenite, and
because it lacks an affinity to combine with common ore- gadolinite, which are rare and are believed to be magmatic in
forming anions. Therefore mineral deposits containing origin and occur in association with fluorite-bearing granitic
significant concentrations are rare (scandium is more abundant pegmatite.
on the moon than it is on earth!).
Scandium is often concentrated in laterite profiles in humid
While several uses for scandium are known, the lack of reliable tropical environments. Absorption on clay minerals is a primary
sources makes development of these technologies difficult. source for enrichment. The element is generally associated with
Until now, scandium was recovered as a by-product from siderophile elements like iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), and cobalt
uranium leaching in the United States and Russia. However, (Co).
two recent discoveries in Queensland and one in New South
Wales may provide a reliable supply of scandium to the market
and result in increased demand as more uses for the element Where is scandium found in Queensland?
are discovered. Two of the worlds three defined Sc resources are in Queensland.
Metallica Minerals reported at the Mining 2011 Conference,
How do we use scandium? that the SCONI deposit (previously NORNICO) at their Lucknow
deposit south of Greenvale contains 6.24 Mt of ore @ 169 g/t Sc
The lack of production has restricted scandiums usefulness,
for 1,580tonnes of Sc2O3 and their Kokomo deposit further north
but the future development of a regular supply, such as that
has 8.9 Mt of ore @ 109 g/t Sc for 1,500 tonnes of Sc2O3). The
predicted to come from Queensland, will see scandium use deposits are lateritised sepentinites and also contain nickel and
increase and become more commonplace. cobalt resources. The third defined scandium deposit is in New
South Wales. The price of Sc2O3 in 2012 was over >$4500/kg.
The main current uses for scandium are:

Bicycle frames and golf clubs. In scandiumaluminium alloys a Exploration potential in Queensland
small amount of scandium significantly increases the strength
The distribution of scandium in Queensland was tested during a
and corrosion resistance of the alloy. Such light, high strength
regional national geochemical survey. The survey shows several
alloys are currently mainly used in high performance sporting
drainage systems in Queensland with anomalous scandium
goods such as baseball bats, bicycle frames or golf clubs.
concentrations in the sediments. At this stage there has been no
Advanced fuel cell technology. In the manufacture of solid testing to determine the source of the scandium. One possible
oxide fuel cells which chemically convert natural gas (or other scenario is that the streams sampled drain laterite profiles which
fuels) into electricity, scandium oxide produces the most have concentrated scandium. This data suggests that there is
efficient cells at lower temperatures. These cells provide more potential for more scandium discoveries in Queensland to meet
efficient on-site electricity and heating and produce less carbon any future global demand for this commodity. Because scandium
dioxide than conventional fuel cell technology. is also concentrated along with other Rare Earth Elements (REE),
exploration for a range of commodities could go hand in hand.
Lighting for film and television. High intensity discharge lamps
use scandium iodide to create a light that is similar to daylight.
Scandium lights are used on film sets or sporting arenas to Further reading
improve television pictures because of the light quality and http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/scandium/
because they are more efficient than other high intensity lights. index.html#mcs

Great state. Great opportunity.


140 145 150

Queensland
10
Rare Earth Elements
and Scandium
" Town
(
!
Scandium occurrence
(
!
Rare Earth occurrence
" Weipa
Railway
Road
Permian-Triassic Granitoids
Kennedy Igneous Association
Mesozoic basins
Permian Triassic basins 15

" Cooktown Devonian-Carboniferous basins


New England Orogen
Mossman Orogen
Thomson Orogen
" Cairns
Georgina Basin
" Karumba North Australian Craton
(
! BELL CREEK SOUTH LEASE

( KOKOMO
!

COBREE
(!
!( BITUMEN
GREENVALE NICKEL !(
(
!

LUCKNOW " Townsville

20

Mount Isa ( ERNEST HENRY


!

MARY KATHLEEN (
!
WILGAR PROSPECT 0 50 100 200
" " "
MOUNT DOROTHY (
!
!
(
(
! (
! Cloncurry " Hughenden
( GREEN VALLEY " Mackay Kilometres
N o r th er n Te r r i t o r y

(!
!
STERLING !(!( FLORENCE BORE SOUTH, TARGET 1
QMH PROSPECT !(

YTTRO (
!
(
! KORELLA

" Winton
(
! YATTON
" Clermont " Marlborough

" Longreach " Rockhampton


(
! COORABULKA " Emerald
" Gladstone

" Bundaberg
25
(
! WATERANGA
" Maryborough
GSQ\14B\MG\CE\CrititcalElementWeb.mxd

" Gympie
" Charleville
" Roma
" Chinchilla
" Dalby
" Brisbane
Toowoomba " "
So u t h A u s tr a l i a Ipswich

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State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) 2014. N e w S o u th Wa l e s
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Further information
GSQ hotline
Email: geological_info@dnrm.qld.gov.au
Telephone: +61 7 3006 4666
Geological Survey of Queensland
14B\Factsheets\critical_elements

Level 12, 61 Mary St Brisbane Qld 4000

www.dnrm.qld.gov.au Produced by Spatial and Graphic Services, Geological Survey of Queensland


The State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) 2014
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/deed.en