AUBURN – Nemaha County commissioners offered their support Wednesday to NioCorp’s idea of a 33-mile water pipeline extending from a proposed mine near Elk Creek to the Missouri River southeast of Nemaha.
Geologist Trevor Mills and Consultant Lavon Heidemann told commissioners that an underground aquifer at the proposed mining site would need to be de-watered.
Mills said there is a 100-foot layer of glacial till on top of 500 to 600 feet of limestone. Below that, is a layer of mineral-rich igneous rock. He said hydrological studies also indicate brackish water below the limestone.
Water factors will depend on how deep mining goes, but Mills said a capacity is needed to pump nearly 10,000 gallons per minute.
A proposed route would include crossing the county near the Richardson County border on Road 720. Mills asked commissioners to use the county’s road right-of-way.
Commissioner Bryan Mellage commended NioCorp for finding ways to solve the water issues at the proposed mining site. He said the county does not oppose the use of road right-of-way as part of the solution.
Mellage: “Nemaha County has been supportive of companies using county right-of-way to lay phone lines, other water lines, so, right now, I see no reason to feel it would be a detriment to the public to have that water line used along county right-of-way.”
Heidemann said the pipeline represents a way for NioCorp to move forward and a taxable asset for Nemaha County.
Commissioner Bob Hutton asked if rural firefighters could connect to the pipeline for an emergency water source. Heidemann said it is a good idea, but will take some research to determine the feasibility.