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Dalur has started designing of a pilot plant for the production of crude scandium concentrate (in the form of scandium fluoride) from pregnant solutions
The project for associated extraction of scandium from productive solutions of a uranium mining enterprise is implemented pursuant to the decision of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation. The presence of scandium in uranium deposits of Kurgan Oblast, which are being developed using ISL method, has been known for a long time. In 2014, during the first project phase, the presence of commercial quantities of the rare earth element was confirmed. Then the leading R&D and design institutes of Russia, together with experts from Dalur and ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., started working on the optimal process technology.
"In accordance with the results of comparative testing of technologies for associated extraction of scandium, the solution of FGAOU "Ural Federal University" indicated the best performance. In this case we have not only positive economic and financial results, but also the purest product, suitable for further production of aluminum-scandium ligatures"- said General Director of Dalur Nikolai Poponin.
The know-how of the researchers from the Ural Federal University substantially is very similar to the uranium extraction process and, of course, is associated with it. Productive solutions containing both uranium and scandium are pumped from operational units by submersible pumps and moved to the sorption stage. First sorption extraction of uranium occurs; then the solution is sent for scandium extraction. The researchers have picked special sorbents and regeneration methods in order to obtain scandium concentrate without admixtures of radionuclides, iron and silicon.
The solution of Dalur and Ural Federal University was highly appreciated by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. The project "Creation of a high-tech facility for the production of aluminum-scandium ligature using uranium ISL leachates" won the competition for a subsidy for the creation of high-tech production facility under Government Program "Science and Technology Development." The project has been also supported by the Government of Kurgan Oblast as a part of the program to create industrial park leveraging Dalur’s potential.
Pilot scandium extraction projects are scheduled to start in 2016. Total scandium production in Kurgan Oblast can reach up to 10 tons per year. Just as uranium, the rare earth metal will be transferred to the facilities of TVEL Fuel Company, a part of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, for subsequent use in the nuclear industry.