NioCorp launches review into the economic potential of producing rare earth products as part of the Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project.
NioCorp Developments Ltd has launched a review of the economic potential of expanding its planned product suite from the Nebraska-based Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project which is expected to extract and purify niobium, scandium, and titanium.
The company is considering the production of rare earth products once the project financing has been secured and the project is operational. Its review of previously collected data on rare earth content in its Elk Creek Project has come as a response to increasing interest from both governments and global industrial consumers for further sources of rare earth products beyond what is available from current suppliers.
The company has finished conducting a thorough geologic and metallurgical evaluation of all of the rare earth data associated with the project. Out of the 20,364 assay results in the Elk Creek database, 13,287 contain a complete suite of analytical data for all commercial rare earth elements.
Among other considerations, NioCorp will weigh up the economic potential for further processing of the solubilised rare earths into commercial rare earth products.
At this point, more test work is needed to determine a means of recovering and extracting rare earths into marketable rare earth products. The metallurgical results observed at the site are based on the known chemical behaviour of the rare earths, bench and pilot scale test work at independent labs, the feasibility-level design of the Elk Creek metallurgical process, and the NioCorp team’s 70 years of experience in rare earth extraction, separation, and purification operations.
Mark Smith, CEO and Executive Chairman of NioCorp, commented: “I am extremely pleased with the work that NioCorp’s technical team has completed to date on the rare earth potential of the Elk Creek Carbonatite. Based on these results, and in light of the market’s high interest in new sources of rare earths, I have directed our team to carefully re-assess the economic potential of the rare earths in our resource. We think this is logical, given that we are putting a significant quantity of rare earths into solution at zero additional cost to our current mining and processing plans.”
Scott Honan, NioCorp’s COO, added: “We expect to execute comprehensive work plans dedicated to examining the economic potential for production of rare earth products as part of the Elk Creek Project. This will include evaluating rare earth extractions in larger scale carbonation testing on the Elk Creek Project ore, which are currently underway.”