Other natural resourcesThere are of course lots of other elements/commodities, and I can’t mention them all. A few of those that are extracted in smaller volumes (often as byproducts) from the earth by mining are for example borate, magnesium, antimony, rutile, mineral sands, beryllium, thorium and scandium. I will focus a bit more on scandium as it seems to have a real chance at becoming a breakthrough metal in aluminium alloys in the not too distant future.Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic d-block element, it has historically been sometimes classified as a rare earth element, together with yttrium and the lanthanoids. It was discovered in 1879 by spectral analysis of the minerals euxenite and gadolinite from Scandinavia.
Scandium is present in most of the deposits of rare earth and uranium compounds, but it is extracted from these ores in only a few mines worldwide. Because of the low availability and the difficulties in the preparation of metallic scandium, which was first done in 1937, it took until the 1970s before applications for scandium were developed. The positive effects of scandium on aluminium alloys were discovered in the 1970s, and its use in such alloys remains its only major application. The global trade of the pure metal is about 10 tonnes per year, but a number of initiatives are being developed the last year or so to dramatically increase demand/supply.