United States

Elk Creek Project

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Mine TypeUnderground
  • REE
  • Niobium
  • Titanium
  • Scandium
  • Total Rare Earth Oxides
Mining Method
  • Longhole stoping
Backfill type ... Lock
Mine Life... Lock
SnapshotNioCorp's primary business strategy is to advance Elk Creek Project to commercial production. The company is focused on obtaining additional funds to carry out near-term planned work programs associated with securing the project financing necessary to complete detailed design, development, and construction of the Elk Creek Project. During fiscal year 2023, NioCorp completed construction and operated the Demonstration Plant. The Demonstration Plant results showed higher recoveries for the primary niobium product, much higher recoveries and a higher value titanium product in the form of titanium tetrachloride, and a high recovery rate for the three planned rare earth oxides (neodymium/praseodymium oxide, dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide) In addition, NioCorp completed initial site preparation work at the Elk Creek Project, which consisted of tree and brush clearing. A geotechnical investigation at the project site was also completed.


NioCorp Developments Ltd. (operator) 100 % Indirect
Elk Creek Resources Corporation (ECRC) is a Nebraska based wholly owned subsidiary of NioCorp. NioCorp retains 100% of the mineral rights to the Project and is the operator.



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Deposit type

  • Carbonatite hosted


The Project is hosted within the Elk Creek Carbonatite. By definition a carbonatite is an igneous rock body with greater than 50% modal carbonate minerals, mainly in the form of calcite, dolomite, ankerite, or sodium- and potassium-bearing carbonates. Carbonatites commonly occur as intrusive bodies, such as isolated sills, dikes, or plugs, although rarely occur as extrusive rocks. Many carbonatites are associated with alkali silicate rocks (for example, syenite, nepheline syenite, ijolite, urtite, pyroxenite, etc.). Carbonatites are usually surrounded by an aureole of metasomatically altered rocks called fenites. Carbonatite-associated deposits can be classified as magmatic or metasomatic types (Richardson and Birkett, 1996).

The property hosts niobium, titanium, and scandium mineralization as well as REE and barium mineralization that occur within the Elk Creek Carbonatite.

The current known extents of the high grade niobium, titanium, and scandium are approximately 750 m along strike, 400 m wide, and 800 m in dip extent below the unconformity.

Niobium and Titanium Mineralization
The deposit contains significant concentrations of niobium. Based on the metallurgical test work completed to date at a number of laboratories using QEMSCAN® analysis, the niobium mineralization is known to be fine-grained, and that 77% of the niobium occurs in the mineral pyrochlore, while the balance occurs in an iron-titanium-niobium oxide mineral of varying composition. Within the mineralized Carbonatite, there are 14,284 samples of Nb2O5, the maximum Nb2O5 grade is 4.472%, and the mean Nb2O5 grade is 0.518%.

Scandium Mineralization
Within the Elk Creek Carbonatite, a host of other elements exist with varying degrees of concentration. The Company has completed both whole rock analysis and multi-element analysis
on all samples for the 2014 program, plus re-sampling of selected historical core and/or pulps between 2011 and 2014.

As the metallurgical test work advanced during 2014 and 2015, the ability to obtain a titanium dioxide (TiO2) and scandium (Sc) product became apparent. TiO2 is typically found to be related to the niobium grades with a range of 3:1 to 4:1 found within the core of the deposit. The scandium mineralization does not directly correlate to niobium mineralization but does show a grade increase with increasing niobium at low grades and high grade Scandium (>75 ppm) is also associated with higher grade concentrated distributions of CaO, Mgo, Th, U and Pb and As.

Rare Earth Element Mineralization
Within the Elk Creek Carbonatite complex, there are several occurrences of REE mineralization, including the Project. REE mineralization within the Carbonatite occurs within the following minerals:
• Bastnäsite ([Ce,La,Y]CO3F);
• Parisite (Ca[Ce,La]2[CO3]3F2);
• Synchysite (Ca(Ce,La)(CO3)2 F);
• Monazite ([Ce,La]PO4).



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Mining Methods


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Crushers and Mills


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The assumed products are a ferroniobium product (metallic alloy shots consisting of 65%Nb and 35% Fe), a titanium dioxide product in powder form, and scandium trioxide in powder form.

FeNb alloy ratio: Fe/Nb = 0.35/0.65).
CommodityProductUnitsAvg. AnnualLOM
Niobium Ferro-niobium t 7,220171,140
Titanium dioxide Powder t 12,000431,793
Sc2O3 Powder t 1003,676

Operational metrics

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Waste tonnes, LOM  ....  Subscribe
Ore tonnes mined, LOM  ....  Subscribe
Total tonnes mined, LOM  ....  Subscribe
Tonnes processed, LOM  ....  Subscribe
* According to 2022 study.

Production Costs

Pre-tax break-even price Sc2O3 USD  ....  Subscribe
Assumed price Sc2O3 USD  ....  Subscribe
Assumed price Titanium dioxide USD  ....  Subscribe
Assumed price Niobium USD  ....  Subscribe
* According to 2022 study / presentation.

Operating Costs

UG mining costs ($/t milled) USD 42.4 *  
Processing costs ($/t milled) USD  ....  Subscribe
G&A ($/t milled) USD  ....  Subscribe
Total operating costs ($/t milled) USD  ....  Subscribe
* According to 2022 study.

Project Costs

MetricsUnitsLOM Total
Initial CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Sustaining CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Closure costs $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Total CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
UG OpEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Processing OpEx $M USD 3,911
Freight costs $M USD 10.5
G&A costs $M USD 300.4
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Gross revenue (LOM) $M USD  ......  Subscribe
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After-tax Cash Flow (LOM) $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Pre-tax NPV @ 8% $M USD  ......  Subscribe
After-tax NPV @ 8% $M USD  ......  Subscribe
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Heavy Mobile Equipment


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Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Dec 16, 2023
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Jun 28, 2022
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Jun 28, 2022

Total WorkforceYear
...... Subscription required 2022


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