OMAHA, Neb. – The mining company that wants to extract a heat-resistant rare element from the ground beneath southeast Nebraska says a new report shows the deposit it plans to mine contains a significant amount of other rare elements.
NioCorp Developments said Thursday that the latest analysis shows the amount of rare earth elements present where it plans to build the mine about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Omaha near the town of Elk Creek is the second largest deposit in the United States.
The Colorado-based company Centennial estimates there are 632.9 kilotons of rare earth elements there. These elements are needed to make the powerful magnets used in electric vehicles and other high-tech products.
But the company is still working on analyzing the latest project data to determine if it will be economically feasible to produce these rare earth elements along with the niobium, scandium and titanium it plans to produce at the mine. Analysts said economic analysis will be essential.
And of course, before NioCorp can produce anything, the company still has to raise more than $1 billion to cover the cost of building the mine. Since 2015, NioCorp has raised over $60 million to pay for exploration and development of the site.
NioCorp CEO Mark Smith said the project has attracted strong interest from investors. The company is trying to come up with a financing plan with the right combination of debt and equity before it can move forward.
“The fundraising effort continues at full steam,” Smith said.
United States imports all of the niobium and scandium and most of the titanium and rare earths that NioCorp hopes to produce. There is only one US mine producing rare earths now at a site in California. NioCorp says its filing is right behind this one Mountain Pass mine that MP Materials turns in California.
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