CENTENNIAL, Colo., Jan. 24, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Recent metallurgical process breakthroughs allowing the recycling of materials previously planned for disposal as part of the Elk Creek Superalloy Project (the “Project”) by NioCorp Developments Ltd. (“NioCorp” or the “Company”) (TSX:NB) (OTCQX:NIOBF) (FSE:BR3) should simplify and streamline the Project’s permitting by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (“USACE”) because of significantly reduced environmental impacts.
The Company’s October 2015 Preliminary Economic Assessment (“Oct. 2015 PEA”) of the Project called for a seven-kilometer railroad spur line, along with supporting rail infrastructure, in order to deliver approximately 7,000 tonnes per week of reagents needed for separation and purification of the three superalloy metals (Niobium, Scandium, and Titanium) that NioCorp plans to produce.
Metallurgical process advances announced last week by NioCorp (news release of Jan. 18, 2017) will allow the Project to recycle many of these reagents from material that previously was planned for disposal either in an on-site tailings storage area or as mine backfill. They also will allow an elimination of the planned railroad spur line and supporting infrastructure. That, in turn, will dramatically reduce the Project’s projected impacts on federally regulated waterways that are subject to regulation by the USACE.
The original railroad spur line would have required constructing several railroad bridges over the Nemaha River, Elk Creek, and various tributaries, as well as impacting an estimated 2.6 acres of wetlands and open water, and more than 1,700 feet of various water channels. With those proposed impacts now removed, the Project’s “Section 404” permit should be considerably less complicated and the associated environmental review process able to be conducted more efficiently.
“As we continue to shrink the overall environmental footprint of our Elk Creek Project, the elimination of a rail spur line is a major advance, both environmentally and economically,” said Mark A. Smith, CEO and Executive Chairman of NioCorp. “The largest single set of potential impacts to federally regulated waters was presented by the construction of the rail line over a number of water features. Given that we have found a way to remove these impacts from our Section 404 permit by recycling more material on-site, this presents a very good outcome both for the Project and for the environment. It also represents another major de-risking for the Project.”
Other benefits from the removal of the railroad spur line and supporting rail infrastructure include the elimination of new rail crossings in the vicinity of the project as well as the elimination of the need to acquire rights to additional land on which the spur line and supporting infrastructure would prospectively have been located.
NioCorp’s recently announced metallurgical and process breakthroughs also are expected to help reduce the volume of material planned for disposal in the Project’s tailings storage area, as more of this material is expected to be recycled, which further reduces the environmental footprint of the Project.
NioCorp’s Oct. 2015 PEA included a capital cost (CAPEX) estimate of $21.3 million for the rail and supporting rail infrastructure, including a 24% contingency. NioCorp understands that those costs will now be removed from the Project’s Feasibility Study. Final CAPEX estimates for the Project will be determined when all remaining Feasibility Study work is complete.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors,
Executive Chairman, CEO, and Director
Qualified Persons: Eric Larochelle, B.Eng of SMH Process Innovation, a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, is responsible for the Elk Creek hydrometallurgical program and has read and approved the technical information contained in this news release.
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NioCorp is developing a superalloy materials project in Southeast Nebraska that will produce Niobium, Scandium, and Titanium. Niobium is used to produce superalloys 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 superalloy material that can be combined with Aluminum to make alloys with increased strength and improved corrosion resistance. Scandium also is a critical component of advanced solid oxide fuel cells. Titanium is used in various superalloys and is a key component of pigments used in paper, paint and plastics and is also used for aerospace applications, armor and medical implants.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Neither TSX nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this document. Certain statements contained in this document may constitute forward-looking statements, including but not limited to the reduction of certain capital expenditures (CAPEX) from those preliminary estimates included in NioCorp’s October 2015 PEA and NioCorp’s ability to implement the metallurgical and process advancements described in this release, benefits that may result from successful implementation of the metallurgical and process advancements described in this release, statements regarding the expected permitting process associated with the Elk Creek project, statements regarding estimated CAPEX associated with the Project, statements regarding potential future production at the Elk Creek Project, anticipated products to be produced at the Elk Creek Project, the future critical and strategic nature of niobium and scandium, expected growing demand for metals to be produced at the Elk Creek Project, potential future customers for such metals, stable future pricing for ferroniobium, NioCorp potentially being the only producer of ferroniobium and scandium in the United States, estimated resources at the Elk Creek Project, future state and local support of the Elk Creek Project, potential returns for investors, anticipated costs of production at the Elk Creek Project being competitive, anticipated competitive advantages, expected date for beginning future commercial production, the timing, completion and results of a feasibility study for the Elk Creek Project, and results and estimates in the Preliminary Economic Assessment, including but not limited to, potential life of mine, pre-tax Net Present Value (NPV), after-tax NPV, Internal Rate of Return and estimated cash flows from production. Such forward-looking statements are based upon NioCorp’s reasonable expectations and business plan at the date hereof, which are subject to change depending on economic, political and competitive circumstances and contingencies. Readers are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause a change in such assumptions and the actual outcomes and estimates to be materially different from those estimated or anticipated future results, achievements or position expressed or implied by those forward-looking statements. Risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause NioCorp’s plans or prospects to change include changes in demand for and price of commodities (such as fuel and electricity) and currencies; changes or disruptions in the securities markets; legislative, political or economic developments; the need to obtain permits and comply with laws and regulations and other regulatory requirements; the possibility that actual results of work may differ from projections/expectations or may not realize the perceived potential of NioCorp’s projects; risks of accidents, equipment breakdowns and labor disputes or other unanticipated difficulties or interruptions; the possibility of cost overruns or unanticipated expenses in development programs; operating or technical difficulties in connection with exploration, mining or development activities; the speculative nature of mineral exploration and development, including the risks of diminishing quantities of grades of reserves and resources; the risks involved in the exploration, development, and mining business, and the risks set forth under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s S-1 registration statement and other filings with the SEC at www.sec.gov. NioCorp disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
CONTACT: For More Information: Contact Jim Sims, VP of External Affairs, NioCorp Developments Ltd., 720-639-4650, email@example.com