NioCorp (TSX:NB; NASDAQ:NB) is partnering with Nanoscale Powders to explore the possibility of creating the first U.S.-based mine-to-master alloy, vertically integrated production of aluminum-scandium alloy. The new facility will lessen the reliance on China as the world’s major scandium producer.
NioCorp is advancing its 100%-owned and permitted Elk Creek critical minerals project in southeast Nebraska. The company plans to produce rare earths, scandium, niobium, and titanium (sponge metal) from the project. Once construction starts it will be three years before production begins.
The probable reserve measures 36.6 million tonnes grading 0.811% niobium pentoxide (Nb2O5), 2.92% titanium dioxide (TiO2), and 70.2 g/t scandium. The in situ reserve contains 170,409 tonnes of payable niobium, 431,793 tonnes of payable titanium dioxide, and 3,677 tonnes of payable scandium oxide (Sc2O3).
The reserves are contained in an indicated resource of 188.8 million tonnes grading 0.51% Nb2O5, 2.24% TiO2, 60.6 g/t scandium, and 0.34% total rare earth oxides (TREO). The inferred resource is 108.3 million tonnes at 0.39% TiO2, 1.92% TiO2, 52.28 g/t scandium, and 0.39 TREO.
NioCorp is not waiting on the mine before addressing the master alloy initiative. It is going forward with Nanoscale with the initial work to produce several ingots of aluminum-scandium master alloy with potentially commercial amounts of scandium using Nanoscale’s proprietary process. This will be a pilot-scale investigation using purchased scandium feedstock. If upsizing to commercial scales is feasible and financing can be arranged, production would begin before the Elk Creek project is in commercial operation.
Learn more on www.NioCorp.com.