CENTENNIAL, Colo., Jan. 4, 2023 /CNW/ — NioCorp Developments Ltd. (“NioCorp” or the “Company“) (TSX:NB) (OTCQX:NIOBF) today announced that its demonstration-scale processing plant (the “demonstration plant“) in Quebec, Canada has succeeded in obtaining a rare earth dissolution rate of 86-95% from Elk Creek ore through hydrochloric acid leaching, and has achieved a loading rate of rare earths as high as 99% in the follow-on solvent extraction recovery step. These relatively high rates, which were expected, point to potentially strong rates of overall recovery of separated rare earth oxides, subject to additional demonstration testing over the coming weeks.
Additional solvent extraction steps will be deployed to establish the ultimate recovery rates of potential rare earth products. The demonstration plant has further established that the rare earths recovered in the initial solvent extraction step are accompanied by only two impurities of note: iron and a very small amount of nickel. Given the success of this initial separation step, L3 and NioCorp expect that losses in the additional solvent extraction steps would be low.
NioCorp is currently focused on demonstrating its ability to recover three high-purity rare earth products: (1) neodymium-praseodymium (“NdPr“) oxide, which is the principal component of neodymium-iron-boron (“NdFeB“) permanent rare earth magnets, (2) Dysprosium (“Dy“) oxide, and (3) Terbium (“Tb“) oxide. Both
Dy and Tb oxide are critical to the type of powerful NdFeB magnets used in the traction motors of electric vehicles. However, very little of these high-purity separated rare earth products are made outside of Asia.
“These results are in line with our expectations and they show that the ongoing work at the plant is proceeding in a positive direction,” said Scott Honan, NioCorp’s Chief Operating Officer. “In the coming weeks, we look forward to seeing the final results from the separations extractions testing that is now underway and to reporting those results to the public.”
As no economic analysis has been completed on the rare earth mineral resource comprising a portion of the Elk Creek 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, and verified the data, contained in this news release.
Scott Honan, M.Sc., SME-RM, COO of NioCorp Developments Ltd., a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and approved the technical information contained in the news release.
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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.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. Forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about NioCorp’s expectation that its demonstration plant will produce results that demonstrate relatively high rates of overall recovery of separated rare earth oxides, expectations that losses in the additional solvent extraction steps would be low, the potential to produce rare earth products for the Project,, and NioCorp’s expectation and ability to produce niobium, scandium, and titanium at the Elk Creek Project. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as “plan,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “outlook,” “estimate,” “forecast,” “project,” “continue,” “could,” “may,” “might,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “should,” “would” and other similar words and expressions, but the absence of these words does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking.
The forward-looking statements are based on the current expectations of the management of NioCorp and are inherently subject to uncertainties and changes in circumstances and their potential effects and speak only as of the date of such statement. There can be no assurance that future developments will be those that have been anticipated. Forward-looking statements reflect material expectations and assumptions, including, without limitation, expectations, and assumptions relating to: the translatability of the thermal treatment and leaching process to remove calcium and magnesium carbonates from ore to the ore that NioCorp expects to extract from the Elk Creek Project. Such expectations and assumptions are inherently subject to uncertainties and contingencies regarding future events and, as such, are subject to change. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties or other factors that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those discussed and identified in public filings made by NioCorp with the SEC and with the applicable Canadian securities regulatory authorities and the following: NioCorp’s ability to operate as a going concern; NioCorp’s requirement of significant additional capital; NioCorp’s limited operating history; NioCorp’s history of losses; cost increases for NioCorp’s exploration and, if warranted, development projects; a disruption in, or failure of, NioCorp’s information technology systems, including those related to cybersecurity; equipment and supply shortages; current and future off take agreements, joint ventures, and partnerships; NioCorp’s ability to attract qualified management; the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or other global health crises on NioCorp’s business plans, financial condition and liquidity; estimates of mineral resources and reserves; mineral exploration and production activities; feasibility study results; 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; claims on the title to NioCorp’s properties; potential future litigation; and NioCorp’s lack of insurance covering all of NioCorp’s operations.
Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should any of the assumptions made by the management of NioCorp prove incorrect, actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in these forward-looking statements.
All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements concerning the matters addressed herein and attributable to NioCorp or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to herein. Except to the extent required by applicable law or regulation, NioCorp undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.