CENTENNIAL, Colo. – NioCorp announced today that a water line from its Elk Creek mining operation to the Missouri River is no longer needed.
The company’s engineering consultant, Nordmin, reports that a 2017 report over-estimated the amount of bedrock water that would have to be removed from the minerals mine.
Removing the $127 million water line from construction plans eliminates the need for federal permits to discharge into the river and avoids certain environmental assessments.
“I am very pleased with the speed and positive direction in which Nordmin is proceeding as they work to complete the detailed engineering of the underground portion of the Elk Creek critical minerals mine,” said Mark A. Smith, CEO and Executive Chairman of NioCorp.
“The design improvements being developed by Nordmin promise to further reduce the environmental footprint of this project. They also continue to de-risk a project that is already one of the most highly de-risked green field mining projects I have seen in my 37 years in this business.”
Mr. Smith added: “These improvements are in no way slowing our project finance discussions and negotiations with the multiple entities with whom we are currently working. But they are helping to reinforce the global uniqueness of this project and increase its already attractive prospective economics to potential investors.”
Scott Honan, President of Elk Creek Resources Corporation, NioCorp’s operating subsidiary overseeing the Project’s development, said: “Building the Elk Creek critical minerals mine and processing facility in a manner that minimizes potential impacts to the environment has been one of the core values we have sought to integrate into this Project from day one.
“Not only do we plan to make commercial products that deliver powerful lightweighting, fuel economy, and energy efficiency benefits to a wide variety of products and markets, but we want to make these environmentally beneficial products in an environmentally sound manner.
“We want the Elk Creek Project to demonstrate that critical minerals can be developed in the U.S. in a manner that respects the environment, creates new jobs, fuels economic growth, and catapults the U.S and the State of Nebraska into positions of global leadership in the production of these critical and strategic minerals.”
The total upfront capital costs of the waterline and the mine dewatering infrastructure, including contingency costs, were $127.1 million in the 2017 Project.
The 2017 study estimated that 12,000 gallons per minute of bedrock water would have to be removed for operations.
Nordmin’s recently proposed approach of using industry standard ground freezing technology during shaft sinking is expected to significantly reduce the quantity of bedrock water to be pumped.