NEBRASKA – Vancouver-based NioCorp Developments has completed a positive preliminary economic assessment of its Elk Creek niobium project near Lincoln. It anticipates building a 3,700-t/d operation with a 36-year life that will produce 23,000 tonnes of titanium dioxide and 12.8 tonnes of scandium trioxide annually.
The Elk Creek project has a pre-tax net present value of US$821 million with an internal rate of return of 15.7%. After tax, those numbers drop to US$562 million for the NPV and 13.9% for the IRR. Direct cash production costs for ferroniobium is expected to be US$6.50 per kg of niobium at a rate of 7,500 tonnes of ferroniobium per year, net of titanium dioxide and scandium trioxide credits.
The pre-production capital cost is pegged at US$919 million, including contingency and owner’s costs. It includes US$136 million for development of an underground mine and US$517 million for the mineral processing plant, metallurgical and inftrastructure costs.
NioCorp earlier put the indicated resource at 80.5 million tonnes grading 0.71% Nb2O5, 2.68% TiO2, and 72 ppm Sc. The inferred resource is 99.6 million tonnes at 0.56% Nb2O5, 2.31% TiO2, and 63 ppm Sc.
A 3-D representation of the orebody is available at NioCorp.com.