Rare mineral found in Australia

16:30, May 17, 2010      

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Deposits of the rare element scandium have been discovered in north Queensland of Australia, a discovery that could lead to Australia becoming the world's biggest exporter of the material, official announced on Monday.

Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed Metallica Minerals Ltd said high-grade scandium had been found on the Lucknow Ridge, west of Townsville.

The element was used to strengthen low-weight aluminum alloys in the aerospace, automotive and sporting industries.

Metallica Minerals said in an ASX statement it was looking into a scandium, nickel and cobalt mine and processing plant. One could be up and running by 2012 if planning was approved.

"The development of Metallica's scandium resources -- at the same time as its nickel-cobalt ores -- offers a unique opportunity to become a long-term, reliable major supplier of scandium and scandium products," the statement said.

"Our objective is to be the first and possibly the only major world scandium supplier for many years."

Scandium is generally marketed as scandium oxide and sells for more than 1,580 dollars (1,400 U.S. dollars) a kilogram.

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