TOKYO, March 12 (Kyodo) — Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. said Monday it plans to build a pilot plant in the Philippines to extract scandium, a rare earth element used to enhance aluminum strength and in components for fuel cells and batteries.
The plant will be set up later this year at Coral Bay Nickel Corp., a subsidiary on Palawan Island that produces nickel-cobalt mixed sulfide from minerals, which also contain a trace amount of scandium.
The mining company said it has established a technology to recover scandium at its Niihama Research Laboratories in Japan. The Philippine plant aims to start trial production of 10 kilograms of the rare earth per month in 2014.
Global production of scandium is estimated at 10 tons per year mostly in the United States, Ukraine, Russia and China, according to the company.