NioCorp is developing the Elk Creek niobium-tantalum-scandium project in Nebraska. If successfully developed, the mine would be the only producer of niobium and scandium in the United States. The vast majority of the world’s niobium production comes from Brazil’s CBMM, and there is currently only about 10 to 15 tonnes of scandium production per year worldwide.
However, market watchers such as John Kaiser of Kaiser Research have pointed out that this small market is largely due to a lack of reliable supply—there is an “enormous latent demand” for the metal if primary, scalable supplies were ever developed.
The goal of the NioCorp-IBC joint venture will be to bring that change about. ““Advanced alloys are continuing to revolutionize many industries, and IBC’s strategic goal is to catalyze new applications for scandium-containing alloys so that we can expand our markets beyond those we are now able to address with advanced beryllium and copper alloys,” said Major General David “Duncan” Heinz (USMC, ret.), president and CEO of IBC, in a statement. “The establishment of a reliable and secure scandium supply chain from NioCorp in the United States, coupled with our team’s world-class experience with scandium-containing and other advanced alloys, make this joint development effort very attractive for our two companies and for U.S. industries as a whole.”
Shares of NioCorp were on a downtrend in 2015, but are up 53 percent so far in 2016.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.