NioCorp rare earth demonstration plant shows positive recovery results

NioCorp Developments (TSX:NB; OTCQX:NIOBF) announced success at its rare earth demonstration plant in Quebec. A rare earth dissolution rate of 86-95% was […]
Drill rigs at NioCorp Developments’ Elk Creek superalloy project in southeastern Nebraska. Credit: NioCorp Developments.

NioCorp Developments (TSX:NB; OTCQX:NIOBF) announced success at its rare earth demonstration plant in Quebec. A rare earth dissolution rate of 86-95% was obtained from Elk Creek ore through hydrochloric acid leaching. The rare earths loading rate was as high as 99% in the follow-on solvent extraction recovery step.  

These relatively high rates, which the company claims were expected, point to potentially strong rates of overall recovery of separated rare earth oxides, subject to additional demonstration testing over the coming weeks. NioCorp says additional solvent extraction steps will be deployed to establish the recovery rates of potential rare earth products. 

The demonstration plant has further established that the rare earths recovered in the initial solvent extraction step are accompanied by only two impurities of note:  iron and a very small amount of nickel.  Given the success of this initial separation step, L3 and NioCorp expect that losses in the additional solvent extraction steps would be low.

NioCorp says it is currently focused on demonstrating its ability to recover three high-purity rare earth products; neodymium-praseodymium oxide (which is the principal component of neodymium-iron-boron permanent rare earth magnets), dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide.

Both dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide are critical to the type of powerful NdFeB magnets used in the traction motors of electric vehicles.  However, very little of these high purity separated rare earth products are made outside of Asia.

"These results are in line with our expectations and they show that the ongoing work at the plant is proceeding in a positive direction," said Scott Honan, NioCorp's COO.  

"In the coming weeks, we look forward to seeing the final results from the separations extractions testing that is now underway and to reporting those results to the public."

To learn more, visit www.NioCorp.com.

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