NioCorp Developments (TSE:NB)(OTCQX:NIOBF) says it has delayed the release of its preliminary economic study for its flagship niobium project in Elk Creek to include potential changes resulting from the recent addition of scandium and titanium to the property's resources.
In February, the company released an updated NI 43-101 resource report, saying the additions of scandium and titanium supplement the resource estimate announced earlier this year, and come on the back of positive indications from ongoing metallurgical testing at the Elk Creek project.
It said both titanium and scandium can be recovered with simple additions to the existing process flowsheet, providing more revenue streams that would compliment existing ferroniobium production.
The company is pushing back the release of the preliminary economic study to fully account for potential changes to parameters regarding estimated mining volumes, as well as processes resulting from recent metallurgical testing and the recent start of additional hydrologic testing at the site.
"Certain aspects of our plans for the development of the Elk Creek mine are necessarily dynamic at this point due to the rapid pace at which additional information about the resource and mining conditions at the site are being developed," said chief executive officer Mark Smith.
"It is our desire to insure that our shareholders and the investing public receive the most current and reliable information we can provide, so we have decided to delay the PEA until it can be better refined to more fully reflect recent and developing information."
The company said the report is now expected in the next two to three weeks, compared to the initial estimate of mid-March.
NioCorp is developing the only primary niobium deposit known to be under development in the U.S., and the highest grade undeveloped niobium deposit in North America, located near Elk Creek, Nebraska.
The company has led an aggressive development path over the past year, finishing a three-phase drilling program in 2014 that more than tripled contained niobium resources at the site, while also moving to secure project financing.
Niobium is combined with iron to produce an alloy known as ‘ferroniobium’, which is used to produce HSLA (High Strength, Low Alloy) steel. It has become an essential metal to help produce lighter, stronger steel for use in automotive, structural and pipeline industries.
The material is one of fourteen metals or groups of metals that the Council of Europe has identified as critical. The United States National Research Council considers it even more important, listing it as one of the five "most critical" metals.