GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 65-20
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


WRAICH, Aman, College of Business Administration, University of Texas at El Paso, 500 W University, El Paso, TX 79968, Canada; Department of Geological Science, University of Texas at El Paso, 500 W University, El Paso, TX 79968,

Scandium was predicted by Mendeleev in 1869 who originally named the element “ekaboron”, it was confirmed to exist by Nilson in 1879, who found it in the minerals euxenite ((Y,Ca,Ce,U,Th)(Nb,Ta,Ti)2O6.) and gadolinite ((Ce,La,Nd,Y)2FeBe2Si2O10) in Scandinavia, thus giving the element its current name Scandium. Euxenite is typically found in granite pegmatites and detrital sandstones. Gadolinite, often referred to as Ytterbite is a silicate mineral typically found in monazite which is a phosphate mineral typically reddish brown in color containing rare earth elements. However in the lithosphere, Scandium is widely dispersed, typically found in igneous rocks, basalt and gabbro. Scandium is a light metal, which is defined as metals of relatively low density, solid at room temperature and oxidizes to a yellow or pinkish color.

My research provides an economic overview of the current supply and metallurgical processes associated with scandium production focusing primarily on the junior mining sector. Scandium offers a functional use for a wide array of industries such as solar, aeronautics and the nuclear sector. For example, Scandium is an aluminum alloy offering a stronger frame for the aeronautics sector and prevents heat cracking during the welding process. In nuclear energy production, hydride and deteriorate scandium offer an excellent source of neutron moderators, which is a medium that decreases the speed of fast neutrons converting them into thermal neutrons with the capability to sustain a nuclear reaction utilizing a fissile nuclide such as uranium 235. A number of extraction companies have long been aware of the applications of scandium however limitations in scandium production may be a contributing factor to the high market value of Scandium currently thought to be $122,500 per pound, or $270 per gram despite this element being the 31st most abundant element on earth. The majority of the worlds scandium production is a result of leaching activities as a byproduct from production of other metals, specially Uranium, Thorium, Aluminum, Tungston, Tin, Tantalum, Phosphorus and other REE’s.