Critical Metals

NioCorp Developments has come out with another update, this time announcing that the project now includes titanium and scandium.

By Michael Dorausch, via Wikimedia Commons.

After announcing a huge increase in the resource estimate for its Elk Creek niobium project in Nebraska earlier this month, NioCorp Developments (TSXV:NB) has come out with another update, this time announcing that the project now includes titanium and scandium.

On Monday, NioCorp reported that the metals were added to the Elk Creek mineral resource statement as a result of positive indications from ongoing metallurgical testing at the project. Recoveries of both scandium and titanium can be accommodated with simple additions to the existing flowsheet for Elk Creek, providing the company with additional revenue streams for the project.

“It is now clear that our resource is world-class for at least two elements; including both its scandium and niobium content,” said NioCorp Executive Chairman Mark Smith in a statement. “The addition of titanium and scandium to the project is an exciting development that will enhance what is already proving to be an impressive new project. Our metallurgical team has already rapidly developed and tested a robust process flowsheet that will allow the company to maximize the value of the Elk Creek project for our shareholders.”

There was a slight change in resource tonnage from NioCorp’s February 9 announcement, but its mineral resource estimate still stands at 80.5 million tonnes indicated and 99.6 million tonnes inferred at a cut-off grade of 0.3 percent Nb2O5.

In terms of the other two metals now being considered, the project holds an indicated 5,800 tonnes of contained scandium and 6,300 tonnes of the metal in the inferred category. Elk Creek has 2.16 million tonnes of contained titanium dioxide and 2.3 million tonnes of contained titanium dioxide in indicated and inferred categories, respectively. NioCorp is currently considering prospective revenue contributions from titanium and scandium, which will be considered to be co-products to the ferroniobium at the project.

Ferroniobium, which will still be the “primary driver” for Elk Creek, is used in the production of high-strength, low-alloy steels. The company has already secured an offtake agreement with ThyssenKrupp (ETR:TKA) for 50 percent of planned ferroniobium production from Elk Creek.

With that in mind, it’s clear that NioCorp isn’t aiming to be a primary scandium producer. However, Monday’s announcement regarding “world class” scandium content at Elk Creek is still important. Aside from Scandium International Mining (TSX:SCY) and Australia’s Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CLQ), few are currently targeting significant production of the metal, even though scandium has a number of potential applications. Indeed, John Kaiser of Kaiser Research has said that scandium could “go ballistic” in coming years if scandium mine developments turn out to be successful.

Certainly, investors and market watchers could now have another reason to keep an eye on NioCorp as the company moves forward. The company states in Monday’s release that it expects to announce the results of a preliminary economic assessment for Elk Creek shortly.

At close of day on Monday, shares of NioCorp were up just over 1 percent, trading at $0.086.


Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no investment interest in any companies mentioned in this article.

Related reading:

John Kaiser: Scandium is Going to Go ‘Ballistic’

NioCorp Up 15 Percent on Offtake Agreement With ThyssenKrupp



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