Rio Tinto has agreed to acquire the Platina Scandium Project in Australia from Platina Resources in a $14m (A$21.27m) deal.

Located near Condobolin in central New South Wales, the project comprises a long-life, high-grade scalable resource.

It is expected to produce up to 40 tonnes per annum of scandium oxide during its estimated operational life of 30 years.

Rio Tinto expects the Platina scandium project to more than double its annual scandium production.

Scandium is a useful mineral for the green economy and energy transition and is considered a critical mineral by several countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.

The acquisition forms part of Rio Tinto’s ‘strategic goal to grow in materials essential for the low-carbon transition’.

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Rio Tinto Minerals chief executive Sinead Kaufman said “This acquisition supports our commitment to critical minerals and finding better ways to provide materials the world needs.

“It will enable us to further develop and grow with the global scandium market, complementing our existing scandium production in Quebec, where we have the expertise, technology and capacity to produce pure, highly reliable scandium through sustainable methods.”

The transaction is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2023.

Last month, Rio Tinto agreed to sell a 55% stake in the La Granja copper project in Peru to First Quantum Minerals for $105m.

The La Granja project has estimated indicated and inferred mineral resources of 4.32 billion tonnes at 0.51% copper.