Greek energy company Mitilineos announced last week its plan to enhance the use of its more economical method for extracting rare earth elements like scandium from bauxite ore.
Mitilineos will be developing the new methods for scandium extraction from bauxite ore as part of its participation in the European Union’s SCALE Project of Horizon 2020. The firm says the bauxite it processes is relatively rich in scandium, making the project economically attractive.
Increasing the availability of scandium and other rare-earth elements (REE) is the goal of the new European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA), of which Mitilineos is a member.
The firm started a plant using the new method about a year ago in Volotia. Mitilineos says the innovative new method has increased the concentration of scandium extracted from its bauxite ore by 3,500 times.
Scandium is an important metal for several industries, as it finds use in power generation plants, lasers, and as an alloy with aluminium for use in the aerospace industry.
In addition, Mytilineos is developing a new method for recycling bauxite ore residue. The firm is collaborating with Alcoa, Norsk Hydro, Rio Tinto Group and several academic institutions in the project under the rubric of LafargeHolcim’s ReActiv program. The method ultimately renders the bauxite ore residue safe to use as an additive in cement production.
Altogether Mytilineos has almost two dozen programs underway funded by Horizon2020 as well as other programs including ΕΙΤ Raw Materials, ΕRAMIN-2, and the NSRF. The €95 million in projects (of which €6.9 million is intended for Mitilineos) include efforts at recovering useful elements from bauxite residue, new methods for alumina production, aluminium recycling, and new training tools for the industry.