West Cobar scouts out scandium at Salazar

Junior explorer West Cobar Metals (ASX:WC1) has unearthed some ‘high-grade’ scandium from aircore work at its Salazar Rare Earth Element Project in Western Australia. 

West Cobar Managing Director Matt Szwedzicki says the scandium is ‘very exciting’ given its ‘high-grade’ and historical leaching recovery test results. 

“Scandium is a highly sought after critical mineral, with scandium oxide prices at nearly US$1 million per tonne.  Recent interest in the metal by Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) reinforces our view that the scandium enhances the opportunity to commercialise our unique clay-hosted deposit.”

This Rio Tinto scandium interest relates to the mining giant’s mid-2023 acquisition of the Owendale scandium deposit in New South Wales and the establishment of its dedicated scandium business unit, Element North 21.

West Cobar says these Rio moves could be perceived as an indication of the growing strategic interest in scandium metals. 

Meanwhile, in terms of what it uncovered, West Cobar reports that aircore collar data from the Newmont deposit in the project area has returned a best intercept of 13m @ 207 parts per million (ppm) Sc from 9m, including 3m @ 423ppm Sc from 10m, in hole SAC358.

West Cobar says historical metallurgical testwork in the area showed that scandium at the Newmont deposit might be amenable to extraction at ‘much lower’ temperatures and pressures than typically lateritic deposits. 

Scandium is a ‘highly strategic’ metal that ‘significantly’ enhances key attributes of aluminium alloys.

West Cobar says analysts are predicting ‘strong’ growth in future demand for the metal given its unique properties.

According to West Cobar, there are ‘very few’ sources of scandium supply globally — hence the assessment of the scandium content at the Salazar project. 

Scandium could potentially be produced alongside ilmenite and rare earth elements from the Salazar project.

Images: West Cobar Metals
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Written By Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith has years of experience in the media sector, having worked as a markets reporter, features writer, and editor since completing a Communications and Journalism degree and a Creative Writing degree. Josh is an avid board game fan and a self-professed coffee snob.