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NioCorp’s Demonstration Plant Begins Testing Process Improvements and Rare Earth Recovery Operations

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NioCorp’s Demonstration Plant Begins Testing Process Improvements and Rare Earth Recovery Operations






Testing is designed around a simplified process flow sheet that could yield better results for Niobium and Titanium production and is expected to confirm previously achieved high recovery rates for Scandium


NioCorp Developments Ltd. (TSX: NB) (OTCQX: NIOBF) is pleased to announce that its demonstration-scale processing plant in Quebec, Canada is now processing ore samples from the Company’s Elk Creek Critical Minerals Project.  The demonstration plant project is intended to demonstrate that the Company can extract and separate rare earth elements from ore that NioCorp expects to mine from the Project site, subject to receipt of necessary project financing, and that its simplified process for potentially producing niobium, scandium, and titanium is technically and economically feasible.


The demonstration plant will process Elk Creek ore samples in three phases.  Testing is expected to be completed over the next several weeks.  NioCorp expects to publicly disclose testing results after each operational phase concludes.

  • Phase 1 is designed to demonstrate a new approach to the initial processing of the ore that NioCorp expects to mine from the Project site, subject to receipt of necessary project funding, including calcination, initial leaching, and rare earth extraction.
  • Phase 2 is designed to demonstrate an improved process for the second stage of leaching along with Niobium and Titanium separation.
  • Phase 3 is designed to demonstrate the technical viability of separating high-purity versions of several target magnetic rare earth products from Elk Creek ore samples, as well as confirming previously achieved high recovery rates for high-purity Scandium trioxide. The potential magnetic rare earth products include Neodymium-Praseodymium (“NdPr”) oxide, Dysprosium oxide, and Terbium oxide. NioCorp will utilize conventional solvent extraction (“SX”) technology to test a rare earth separation approach developed by NioCorp and L3. NioCorp and L3 have years of collective experience in SX technology.


“Our team is very pleased to see the demonstration plant begin operations, and we intend to closely monitor every step of this process,” said Scott Honan.  “Many of these processes have already been successfully tested at the bench scale.  Given our team’s years of experience in hydrometallurgy, including rare earth separations, I expect that we will demonstrate positive results.  I also look forward to potentially demonstrating how our simplified process flow sheet can more efficiently and cost-effectively produce Niobium, Scandium, and Titanium.”


Honan added that once operations have concluded and data analyzed, work can then turn to the design and engineering of the new process flow sheet, which in turn is expected to be incorporated into an updated Elk Creek Project Feasibility Study that incorporates an economic analysis of separated rare earth oxide products and the simplified process flow sheet.


As no economic analysis has been completed on the rare earth mineral resource comprising the Project, further studies are required before determining whether extraction of rare earth elements can be reasonably justified and economically viable after taking account all relevant factors.




Eric Larochelle, B.Eng., Co-Owner, L3 Process Development, a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and approved the technical information contained in this news release.


About NioCorp


NioCorp is developing a critical minerals project in Southeast Nebraska that will produce niobium, scandium, and titanium.  The Company also is evaluating the potential to produce several rare earths from the Project.  Niobium is used to produce specialty alloys as well as High Strength, Low Alloy (“HSLA”) steel, which is a lighter, stronger steel used in automotive, structural, and pipeline applications. Scandium is a specialty metal that can be combined with Aluminum to make alloys with increased strength and improved corrosion resistance. Scandium is also a critical component of advanced solid oxide fuel cells. Titanium is used in various lightweight alloys and is a key component of pigments used in paper, paint and plastics and is also used for aerospace applications, armor, and medical implants.  Magnetic rare earths, such as neodymium, praseodymium, terbium, and dysprosium are critical to the making of Neodymium-Iron-Boron (“NdFeB”) magnets, which are used across a wide variety of defense and civilian applications.


Posted September 6, 2022

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