Project Update Webcast
See this video of Niocorp Executive Chair and CEO Mark A. Smith providing an update on the Elk Creek Project in a December 9, 2016 webcast.
Elk Creek Project Virtual Tour
See this video of a virtual tour of NioCorp's proposed Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project.
NioCorp is developing North America's only niobium / scandium / titanium project. Located near Elk Creek, Nebraska, the Elk Creek Project is the highest grade niobium project in North America, as well as the largest prospective producer of scandium in the world.
NioCorp is positioned to emerge as the United States' only producer of niobium and scandium. These elements are unique and valuable superalloy materials that are strategic and critical to many industries and national defense technologies.
2015 was a year of extraordinary progress for NioCorp. In the midst of a challenging investment climate for metals projects, NioCorp set itself apart by successfully attracting investment from both retail and institutional investors. As the independent investment analysts at Rodman & Renshaw recently noted:
"While commodity markets have been floundering, NioCorp has continued to progress its wholly-owned Elk Creek Project located in Nebraska while keeping a strong treasury… Elk Creek as a rare, strategic asset in a mining friendly jurisdiction."
The Company plans to continue its positive momentum into 2016, with the expected issuance of its Elk Creek Feasibility Study, the launch a global effort to secure project capital, and the beginning of construction activities at Elk Creek.
Exceptional Economic Returns
NioCorp's most recent updated Preliminary Economic Assessment, released on October 16, 2015, shows why the Elk Creek Project will deliver exceptional economic results. With anticipated production of 7,490 tonnes per annum (tpa) of Ferroniobium, 97 tpa of Scandium Trioxide, and 23,960 tpa of Titanium Dioxide over its 32-year operating life, Elk Creek is estimated to have pre-tax Net Present Value (NPV) of US$3.07 billion, with an after-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 27.6%. These economics were calculated using an 8% discount rate.
Very Unique Superalloy Materials
All three of NioCorp's primary products are superalloy materials that have important uses in many civilian, industrial, national defense, and homeland security applications.
Elk Creek's anchor product -- niobium – is a crucial component in high strength, low-alloy (HSLA) steel. HSLA steel is increasingly used in bridge and other large infrastructure projects, in high pressure oil and gas pipelines, in lightweight and fuel efficient cars, and in many other applications.
Niobium can deliver powerful economic and environmental benefits in applications where it is used. For example, according to the World Steel Association, approximately $9 USD of Niobium added to a mid-sized automobile can reduce its weight by 100kg. That helps increase its fuel efficiency by 5%. And that's a huge return to consumers and our environment.
As a commodity, niobium enjoys relatively stable pricing at attractive levels. It also is characterized by robust and diverse global markets, solid forecast growth rates, relatively limited substitution risk, and multiple applications across environmentally preferred technologies.
Elk Creek Project's primary co-product – scandium – is a revolutionary element. Primarily used as an alloy with aluminum, it increases the strength and weldability of aluminum alloys while improving corrosion resistance. As such, it can deliver particularly powerful benefits to the aerospace and transportation industries. For example, according to one independent estimate, between $1.0-$1.5 million of scandium oxide in a single airliner offers $10-15 million of net present value in fuel savings.1
Titanium is a superalloy material that is used to produce strong, lightweight alloys that have high corrosion resistance. Titanium has the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element. It is used in wide variety of sectors, including aerospace, national defense, chemical processing, desalination, automotive, health care, communications, sporting goods, and many others. It also is used is used in the manufacture of pigments in paints, plastics and paper, and is a photocatalyst.
How To Get Updates
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The Amended PEA2, and other PEAs completed by NioCorp, are preliminary in nature and include a level of engineering precision and assumptions which currently are considered too speculative to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable Mineral Resources to be categorized as Mineral Reserves. Inferred Mineral Resources are not included in the mine plan for the Amended PEA2. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The Amended PEA2 includes price and market assumptions concerning an expanded demand in the scandium market. There is no certainty that the Amended PEA2 will be realized.
1 Based on a B737NG flying 3000-4000 hours per year, and a long-term jet fuel price of $2-3/gallon. Savings potential is greater in long haul aircraft with higher overall utilization.