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Infrastructure Critical Minerals

As nations around the world invest in programs to strengthen and expand  transportation and other infrastructure systems, increasing attention is being focused on Niobium.  Why?  Because when added to steel, Niobium makes it stronger, lighter in weight, and highly resistant to corrosion. Niobium-contained High Strength, Low Alloy (HSLA) steel is increasingly used in buildings, bridges, dams, and other large construction and mega-steel projects. HSLA steel highly bridges with Niobium can be designed to last more than a century of use, as opposed to conventional highway bridges that may last only 30-40 years before having to undergo major repair work.

Scandium presents potentially revolutionary applications in transportation applications, which play a vital role in the ultimate cost of transportation infrastructure systems.  For example, Scandium’s potential to lightweight commercial jetliners, automotive applications, and mass transit systems may have major implications for transportation infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and other transportation hubs. 

Below are just a few examples of how these three superalloy materials are utilized in construction and infrastructure technologies around the world.

Aerospace Applications That Utilize NioCorp’s Planned Products

Lightweight Bridges

Using high strength, low-alloy steel that contained only .025% Niobium, the Millau Viaduct in the south of France was able to be constructed using 60% less steel and concrete. Niobium-strengthened steel also reduced the environmental impacts and costs of the project because less raw materials had to be transported and used in the bridge construction.

Windpower Turbines

Wind turbines are being constructed at taller heights — some as much as 100 meters high — so that they can take advantage of better and more consistent wind speeds. Larger rotor diameters also allow for more energy efficient energy generation. But these taller towers require extra-strong materials.  Increasingly, niobium-containing high-strength steel is meeting this need.  Niobium steels also are helping wind turbine gear boxes to operate longer and more reliably.

Pipelines

The addition of Niobium to steel improves grain refining, retards recrystallization, and helps with precipitation hardening of the steel. This results in steel that is tougher, stronger, and more weldable.  That’s why Niobium-hardened steel is often required for use in high-pressure natural gas transmission pipelines in order to improve their operating life and safe operation.

Energy Exploration

Superalloy metals such as Niobium and Titanium can be used extensively in energy exploration and distribution systems, such as offshore energy platforms, wind energy turbines, oil and gas drilling technologies, ocean-going transport vessels, distribution pipelines, and many other systems. Superalloy metals help to keep the world’s population with the energy its needs to live and thrive.

High Performance Buildings

With the increasing structural demands placed on buildings today, the use of High Strength, Low Alloy steel is increasingly required.  HSLA steel with Niobium helps make today’s buildings safer, more energy efficient, and less costly.  It also provides building designers with significantly more flexibility in their designs.

Advanced Construction Techniques

High Strength, Low Alloy steels made with Niobium, and high-performance alloys made with Titanium, are allowing for more efficient and environmentally beneficial construction techniques.  Structures made with these materials can use less raw materials, make better use of available land,  more efficient floor space utilization, less emissions, and fewer environmental impacts during construction.

Superalloy Blog Posts

SUPERALLOY BLOG: Critical Minerals Mining Means New High-Tech Jobs

SUPERALLOY BLOG: Critical Minerals Mining Means New High-Tech Jobs

The more we mine and manufacture our own critical minerals and materials, the more secure our collective economic and national security will be.  But there is another compelling driver behind the resurgence of interest in critical minerals mining and manufacturing:  high-tech jobs and economic growth for states and localities.

ESG: Good for the Environment, Good for Business Investment

ESG: Good for the Environment, Good for Business Investment

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors play a major role in any business, particularly those involved in natural resource development. Doing right by the environment while we serve the needs of our customers, and serving our society’s need for critical minerals, are central to the mission of the NioCorp team.

The Fundamentals of Ferroniobium

The Fundamentals of Ferroniobium

The technology and market fundamentals of ferroniobium, a critical and strategic material vital to many defense and civilian applications, are increasingly compelling to producers, consumers, and government policymakers. The fundamentals of ferroniobium coalesce to form an exciting and robust future for this critical material.

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