Rare earth mineral mining company updates investors

Niobium and Scandium on the periodic table. (NET News Graphic)
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December 7, 2018 - 1:10pm

The company planning to build a mine in Elk Creek, Nebraska, updated investors this week.


NioCorp plans to mine for titanium, niobium, and scandium at their Elk Creek project. Niobium and scandium are mixed with steel to create strong, light-weight alloys.

NioCorp is working with engineering and construction firm Nordmin on a new mine shaft design that would involve freezing the shaft as it is built to avoid pumping out as large a quantity of water. This new plan will also allow the company to avoid some of the Army Corps of Engineer permits they previously needed.

Executives say they are looking at multiple financing options, with interest ranging from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. Financing is not yet in place, but executives say they are working “as fast as possible.”

Mark Smith is CEO of NioCorp. He hopes investors will take it as a good sign that he has asked Vice President Scott Honan to have all necessary engineering and construction contracts ready.

“I want them to be in a position so that the moment that I walk into Scott’s office and tell him that the financing is in a binding form, he signs those contracts, and we get that little red shovel into the ground,” Smith said.

Smith also noted that NioCorp has signed a ten-year contract to sell one of their materials, scandium, to a company called Traxys, which markets and sells specialty metals.

Smith says he’s confident if the federal government were to pass a new infrastructure plan, it would increase demand for NioCorp products.

“Currently 100 percent of the Niobium we use in the United States is imported. 100 percent of the vanadium that we use in this country is imported. You have to use niobium or vanadium to, as an additive in the steel to get the yield strength that you need for these infrastructure projects,” Smith said.

NioCorp did not offer an estimate on when they may break ground on the mine.

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