Company says proposed Nebraska mine will yield a bonanza of rare elements

Nb Niobium

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The mining company that wants to extract a rare heat-resistant element from the ground under southeast Nebraska says a new report shows that the deposit it plans to mine holds a significant amount of other rare elements.

NioCorp Developments said Thursday that the latest analysis shows that land near Elk Creek, about 65 miles southeast of Lincoln, has the second-largest deposit of rare earth elements in the United States.

The Colorado-based company estimates that there are 632.9 kilotons of rare earth elements there. Those elements are needed to make the powerful magnets used in electric vehicles and other high-tech products.

But the company is still analyzing the latest data on the project to determine if it will be economically feasible to produce those rare earth elements along with the niobium, scandium and titanium it plans to mine there. Analysts have said that economic analysis will be key.

And before NioCorp can produce anything, the company still has to raise more than $1 billion to build the mine. Since 2015, NioCorp has raised more than $60 million to pay for the exploration and development of the site.

NioCorp CEO Mark Smith said there has been strong interest from investors in the project. The company is trying to develop a financing plan with the right mix of debt and equity before it can move forward.

“The financing effort continues full bore,” Smith said.

The U.S. imports all of its niobium and scandium and most of its titanium and rare earths. There is only one American mine that produces rare earths now, in California.

NioCorp said the Nebraska deposit is second only to that Mountain Pass mine that MP Materials runs in California.

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