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NioCorp awards process automation contract for Neb. critical minerals facility

NioCorp Developments Ltd. awarded a major contract to Rockwell Automation to engineer, design and procure process automation and instrumentation for the company's proposed critical minerals, mining and processing facility at its Elk Creek project in Nebraska.

The facility is expected to start producing superalloy metals niobium, scandium and titanium by 2021, according to a May 21 release.

These materials, which were recently added to the critical minerals list by the U.S. Department of the Interior, are used in the aerospace, defense, automotive, clean energy, commercial aviation and mega-infrastructure sectors.

"We selected Rockwell Automation and its partners to automate our process equipment and power control systems with the goals of optimizing material handling and processing, increasing efficiencies and reducing time to market," said NioCorp CEO and Executive Chairman Mark Smith.

The Elk Creek project is known to be the highest-grade niobium deposit in North America. The facility is expected to produce more than 7,000 tonnes of ferroniobium, 103 tonnes of scandium trioxide and over 11,000 tonnes of titanium dioxide per annum once in full-scale production, with a 32-year operating life.