Rio Tinto Fer et Titane has produced a first batch of high purity scandium oxide at its commercial scale demonstration plant in Sorel-Tracy, becoming the first North American producer of this critical mineral, which is notably used in solid oxide fuel cells and in aluminium alloys. The RTFT team has completed commissioning activities, and is now focusing on production ramp up to bring the plant to its nameplate capacity of three tonnes of scandium oxide per year, representing approximately 20% of the global market. The plant uses an innovative process developed by RTFT to extract high purity scandium oxide from the waste streams of titanium dioxide production, without the need for any additional mining.The company is also considering near-term expansion options to increase production capacity in line with market demand.RTFT operates an open cast ilmenite mine at Lac Tio near Havre-Saint-Pierre, on Quebec’s North Shore. The ore is used to produce high-quality titanium dioxide feedstock, pig iron, steel and metal at RTFT’s metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. Together, the sites employ over 1,600 people.Scandium oxide is used to improve the performance of solid oxide fuel cells, which are used as a power source for data centres and hospitals, as well as in niche products such as lasers and lighting for stadiums or studios. It is also used to produce high-performance aluminium-scandium alloys for the aerospace, defence and 3D printing industries.