Just can’t see it myself

From the world of technical expertise:

Scandium International Mining (TSX:SCY) has announced results of a definitive feasibility study for its Nyngan scandium project in New South Wales, Australia. The project is 80 percent owned by Scandium International.

As quoted in the press release, highlights included:

Capital cost estimate for the Project is US$87.1 million,
Operating cost estimate for the Project is US$557/kg scandium oxide,
Oxide product volume averages 37,690 kg per year, over 20 years,

Capex adds another $100, $150 per kg to that opex.

Current market price is good. A few months back at least you’d be getting $3,000 a kg, something like that. I’ve seen very much lower prices just this past couple of weeks.

However, here’s the killer. Global market is currently no more than 15,000 kg a year. One single producer comes in with 2x global consumption and the price is going to do what? 15 years ago, when there was stock around but no ongoing production prices were $300 per kg.

Just cannot see it working myself.

17 thoughts on “Just can’t see it myself”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Global market is currently no more than 15,000 kg a year.

    But is that the global market for the metal or the oxide? It sounds like they are talking oxide.

    Scandium looks like it needs more futures. That is a big swing in price. I assume it is because demand is so low and there are so few producers. I would then assume this is a fraud, but I am not sure about New South Wales. Now, say, Western Australia or Vancouver? I would be sure. How do the local authorities take your average mining scam in that neck of the woods?

  2. In my 15 year active career in Sc I sold precisely 500 grammes of Sc metal. Oddly, to Edwina Currie’s son in law.

    That market is the oxide market.

  3. Perhaps the market will grow with significantly lower prices. There must be things you can do at $500 that you wouldn’t countenance at $3,000.

    Look at computing: when it was expensive, we used it to send men to the moon and run multinational companies. Now that it’s cheap we use it to play Angry Birds.

  4. True, but it’s financing yourself over the decade that it takes for alloy compositions to change (and that’s what it does take. I supplied Airbus with trial material 15 years ago. Still not certified as airworthy).

  5. I don’t quite see how your two comments here fit together: I thought the relevant alloys were scandium-aluminium ones and would start by dropping some scandium metal into the crucible with the aluminium.

    Do you in fact add scandia to the alumina before you start the refining? Or can you add scandium-oxide directly to the crucible and have it migrate to the grain boundaries where it’s useful?

  6. You make a master alloy (Al Sc 2%) with, well, you can start with alumina if you want but most start with a pure Al (99.9%) and Sc2O3. You then stir that nicely so that it’s well mixed and cool very quickly to ensure that you keep the even dispersion. Final allows are 0.l, 0,2 % Sc, and the master alloy allows you to carefully add what you need.

    RE metals are very rarely used as metals to alloy, because the cost of making the metal from the oxide is usually high (3 x per RE unit in metal as of RE oxide. Part of that’s just driving the O3 off, but not all at all).

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “What are the chances that someone has come up with a new product that needs Sc?”

    Well let’s hope it washes our clothes whiter than white rather than provides our breath with that ring of confidence

  8. It could only be smfs who would doubt your subject knowledge. He probably thinks he still knows best

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    Mister Bean – “It could only be smfs who would doubt your subject knowledge. He probably thinks he still knows best”

    Where do I doubt TW’s subject knowledge?

    I asked questions precisely because TW knows and more unusually is happy to tell people who ask. That is not doubting him.

    But it is a shame you don’t have the courage to use your usual name.

  10. SMFS,

    I thought your initial question was a good one. At least it saved this non-expert from wondering the same thing.

    “Well let’s hope it washes our clothes whiter than white rather than provides our breath with that ring of confidence”

    I too don’t know enough about the possible toxicity of Sc to be comfortable ingesting more than I already do.

  11. There is a “new” use, solid oxide fuel cells, See Bloom Energy. But that 15 tonnes includes that and while I think it’s great tech I don’t see it filling that gap. The current tech is very inefficient, lavishes the material on at mm thick. This will decline to 00s of nm thick soon enough.

  12. I tend to agree that the Bloom fuel cells alone won’t increase the Sc market enough to make the mine financially feasible.

    I was thinking about a shop floor mistake that leads to a breakthrough like stainless magnesium, that isn’t turned over to academia. If a business has the resources to develop a new Sc procedure they stumble across how likely is it that you know about it yet?

  13. In volume? Somewhere between 95% and 100%. People looking for Sc pretty much always stumble over me at some point.

  14. Thanks for the metallurgy note; I’m still a bit confused as to what state the scandium is in in the master alloy. Does the aluminium reduce Sc2O3 to the metal, or does the oxide itself dissolve and reprecipitate in auspicious places?

    (I would be a bit startled if given something described as Fe-10% Si which was 20% quartz by weight)

  15. I’m glad I came back to check. At least I now know where to go should I need Sc for my volcano lair.

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