Scandium was discovered by Nilson in 1876. It was found in the minerals euxenite and gadolinite, which at the time were unique to Scandinavia. The material that Nilson had identified was identical to ekaboron, a material that Mendeleev had predicted would exist many years before.
Scandium metal was not prepared until 1937. At this time Fisher, Brunger and Grieneisen were able to isolate it from a eutectic mixture of scandium, potassium and lithium chlorides.
Scandium is more abundant in the sun than it is on Earth. In the sun it is the 23rd most common element, whilst on earth it ranks only 50th. Similarly, it is more abundant on some stars than Earth.
Scandium can be found in tiny amounts in about 800 different minerals.
It is the main constituent of the rare mineral thortveitite from Scandinavia and Malagasy. Thortveitite is the main source of Scandium and is most often produced as a by-product or uranium mill tailings.
Other sources of scandium are:
• Residues from tungsten extraction Zinnwald wolframite
Scandium metal is produced by the reduction of scandium fluoride with calcium metal.