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Facts about the Real Rare Earth Element Scandium
Tracy Weslosky, Editor, InvestorIntel
Source: REE Handbook

Scandium, REE Collection, ProEdge Media Corp. "Scantily scant scandium aptly describes the availability of this, the first member of the rare-earth group of elements." James Hedrick

Scandium with the chemical symbol Sc and atomic number 21 was discovered in 1879 by Lars Fredrik Nilson, a professor of analytical chemistry in Stockholm, Sweden and named in honor of the locations where the mineral was found -- Scandinavia.

Interesting fact, scandium is more abundant in the Moon than on Earth. And while most rare earth elements are not rare, scandium is an exception. Widely dispersed in the Earth, it is rarely found in any large concentrations. "Scandium is rarely concentrated in nature because it lacks affinity to combine with the common ore-forming anions" (Hedrick, 2010). It occurs in the Earth's crust at an average concentration of 22 parts per million and has not been found in significant grade or tonnage to be classified as a reserve. Some researchers do not consider scandium to be a rare earth element, however the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry includes scandium in their rare earth element definition.

While scandium-aluminum high-strength lightweight alloy is used in lacrosse sticks, bicycle frames, golf clubs, and baseball bats, it often receives media attention for use in Russian MiG fighter jets airframes to make the aircraft lighter and more maneuverable. Laser crystals of gadoliniumscandium - gallium garnet (GSGG) are used in strategic defense applications and other uses include dental lasers for cavity preparation and in endodontics. High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps use scandium iodide for sports stadium and arena lighting to provide daytime-like color for television and Smith and Wesson make a lightweight, high-strength revolver frame using Scandiumaluminum. The blue color of the gemstone aquamarine is attributed to the presence of scandium and scandium-aluminum in baseball and softball bats creates a "trampoline effect" that deflects the ball off the bat faster and farther.

Scandium is a silvery-white metal that oxidizes in air to a yellowish or pinkish tint. The metal is lightweight, soft, and ductile. It has a hexagonal close-packed structure, a density of 2.992 gm/cm3, a melting point of 1539 °C, and a boiling point of 2727 °C. Scandium oxide, or scandia, occurs as a trivalent ion and forms a sesquioxide with the formula Sc2O3. The oxide is a white powder with a specific gravity of 3.86 gm/cm3 and a formula weight of 137.9.

Scandium previously produced in the United States was primarily from the scandium-yttrium silicate mineral thortveitite, and from byproduct leach solutions from uranium operations. The rare thortveitite and associated scandium-bearing minerals from Ravalli County, Montana, USA, are believed to be of magmatic origin and occur in association with a fluorite-bearing granitic pegmatite and host melagabbro within the Crystal Mountain fluorite deposit. Scandium was also previously produced as a byproduct during uranium processing at the Bingham Canyon copper mine, Bingham Canyon, Utah. At Climax, Colorado, scandium was recovered from tungsten raffinates during wolframite processing. Some Idaho batholith-derived heavy mineral placers are reported to contain from 200 ppm to 1,500 ppm scandium, mainly in tantalite, columbite, euxenite, and ilmenite (Special thanks, James Hedrick, www.REEHandbook.com).

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