Melbourne-based Clean TeQ (ASX: CLQ) is marrying its scandium resource in NSW to the skills of a private US-based aerospace company planning to manufacture 3D-printed space launch rockets.
The company will collaborate with Relativity Space, a California company which has a slogan claiming, “rockets built and flown in days rather than years”.
Relativity is also building the first autonomous rocket factory and launch services for satellites.
As Clean TeQ explains, aerospace manufacturing has traditionally relied upon large factories, fixed tooling, complex supply chains and extensive manual labour in the process of building rockets with more than 100,000 parts involved.
Relativity’s Stargate factory, in contrast, uses robotics, software and data-driven 3D printing technology.
The aerospace manufacturing company is developing its Terran 1, the world’s first 3D-printed space launch rocket, and Aeon engines for commercial orbital launch services.
High-grade scandium resource
Clean TeQ, meanwhile, has what it terms its “world class” Sunrise nickel-cobalt-scandium project in NSW, described by it as one of the largest and most cobalt-rich nickel laterite deposits in the world — and one of the largest and highest-grade scandium deposits globally.
The company has all key permits and approvals in place for Sunrise.
Clean TeQ and Relativity have signed a binding agreement where the Australian company will supply scandium oxide from Sunrise.
Under the terms of the agreement, Clean TeQ will supply scandium from its proposed Sunrise mine.
Annual volumes will be determined by Relativity but a fixed price has been agreed.
Clean TeQ says the collaboration is consistent with its long-term strategy in helping industry players investigate and develop new applications for scandium-aluminium alloys.
“The company’s aim is to stimulate growth in demand for the material which will be converted into sales of scandium from the Sunrise project once it is in operation.”
Sunrise is now being developed, the company adds, as one of the world’s largest integrated producers of nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate — key cathode materials for the electric vehicle battery market.
“However, it also hosts one of the largest and highest-grade scandium deposits ever discovered, positioning Clean TeQ to be major supplier of low-cost scandium,” the company said.
The scandium will be needed for lightweight aluminium alloys to be used in aerospace, automobiles and consumer products.
Clean TeQ chief executive officer Sam Riggall said scandium allows the company to develop a new generation of aluminium alloys that are stronger, lighter, more corrosion-resistant and printable.
“These alloys have the potential to revolutionise the manufacturing processes for a range of industries, as Relativity is already demonstrating,” he added.