The Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project is slated to start on time despite worldwide shutdowns and a decelerated global economy after NioCorp Developments secured federal permits for the project.
The mine will contain the world’s largest scandium reserve, containing an average of 97mt a year over the mine’s 36-year life. The mineral is used to make aluminum and will supply five to 10 times the global supply, Jim Sims, vice president of external affairs, NioCorp, told Davis Index. Additionally, he said, Elk Creek will have the capacity to produce 7,220mt of ferroniobium per annum—a microalloy that is used to strengthen steel and is most often used in the automotive industry, as well as to build bridges.
The incentive-laden mine has received bipartisan support because of the southeast Nebraska mine’s ability to supply raw material in rebuilding US infrastructure, Mark Smith, NioCorp’s chief executive officer and executive chairman, said in a statement.
However, the company is still searching for financing the project, and while the financial crisis engulfing the world’s economy has doubtless hampered progress, Sims expressed optimism it will be secured, though he did not divulge the details or timeline for it.