Ionic Rare Earths Ltd is positioning itself to become a key player in the scandium oxide market with plans to produce 20-25 tonnes per annum at the Mukuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda before ramping up over 10 years to around 90–100 tonnes per annum.

Back in March, Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) revealed a substantial near four-fold increase in the contained scandium oxide resource at Mukuutu, which saw it jump from 2,300 tonnes to 9,450 tonnes and it is now considered to be the third largest reported scandium resource globally.

Mukuutu is expected to grow even further, with exploration upside in the eastern tenement EL00147 and the northwestern tenements application TN03573.

The projects’ low capex development is a clear differentiator to other potential scandium resources. It provides IonicRE with an advantage to establish a key foothold in what is expected to become a metal of high demand once supply can be demonstrated.

Market outlook

Pricing for scandium oxide is currently trading between US$1,000/kg to US$4,000/kg as interest in the market continues to rise on the back of recent moves by global aluminium giants Rio Tinto and RUSAL.

In January, Rio Tinto announced its plan to enter the scandium market with the construction of a new commercial-scale plant in Quebec, Canada. RUSAL, meanwhile, launched a new brand for its aluminium-scandium products, ScAlution.

While the current scandium market is 15–20 tonnes per annum, IXR believes the global transportation industry has the potential to turn scandium into a billion-dollar market.

The existing market for aluminium across automotive, aerospace, marine, rail and space applications is around 7 million tonnes per annum and IXR believes there is market penetration potential by aluminium-scandium alloys into this market globally.

Recent developments have been made in applications for 3D printing, where components can be rapidly produced for niche uses in automotive, aerospace and space applications.

The company is continuing discussions with global groups interested in development of aluminium-scandium alloys and is exploring opportunities for collaboration.

Standalone rare earth separation and refinery

In early August IonicRE revealed its plans to evaluate the economics associated with developing a standalone rare earth separation and refinery for the processing of the critical and heavy rare earth dominant MREC from Makuutu.

The refinery will also separate and refine scandium to a purity exceeding 99% and is aligned with supply directly for Al-Sc master alloy manufacturing.




This article was developed in collaboration with Ionic Rare Earths, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.