NioCorp Developments Ltd. reduced the environmental impacts of its proposed Elk Creek superalloy development in Nebraska, which is expected to streamline the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers.
The company said Jan. 24 that recent metallurgical breakthroughs indicate that materials previously slated for disposal can instead be recycled. A feasibility study is ongoing.
A 2015 preliminary economic assessment on the property included a 7-kilometer railroad spur line and supporting infrastructure to deliver approximately 7,000 tonnes per week of reagents required to separate and purify the niobium, scandium and titanium to be produced at Elk Creek.
Recent advances in the metallurgical process will enable recycling of many of the reagents from material previously planned for disposal either in a tailings storage facility or as mine backfill, while also reducing the need for the railroad spur line and associated infrastructure.
CapEx for the rail and supporting infrastructure had been estimated at US$21.3 million, including a 24% contingency.
NioCorp noted that the rail development would have required the construction of several railroad bridges over the Nemaha River and various tributaries, while also impacting about 2.6 acres of wetlands and open water and more than 1,700 feet of various water channels.
Earlier in January, the company completed private land deals for the Elk Creek property.