Shares in NioCorp Developments Ltd (TSE:NB) soared Friday as it revealed President Trump's administration has officially classified as "critical minerals" the superalloy metals the firm will mine from Elk Creek.
These are namely niobium, scandium and titanium, which all have key uses in national defence and civilian technologies.
Currently, the US is currently 100% dependent on foreign nations such as China and Russia for these materials.
As revealed in February, a Federal Register notice published said the Administration had included the three metals on a list of 35 materials.
"This action by President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke is very much welcomed and shows that they understand the strategic imperative of encouraging greater investment in critical mineral development in the U.S," said Mark Smith, Niocorp's chief executive and chairman.
"As a former Navy SEAL commander with undergraduate degree in geology, Secretary Zinke is especially cognizant of the need to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign sourcing of critical and strategic materials that are key to national defense technologies and to our warfighters."
READ - Proposed critical minerals list could boost Niocorp Developments permitting process, reckons HC Wainwright
Smith noted that the government move also provided a powerful differentiating factor for the Elk Creek project.
"It helps to set the project apart from other proposed greenfield mining projects in the U.S. It also will help this project attract additional attention from a variety of key stakeholders around the world, including major potential sources of project finance," he said.
Niocorp's Elk Creek project in Nebraska has a completed a positive feasibility study and the group is currently engaged in assembling a project finance package to allow construction to start.
The site is earmarked to produce around 143,824 tonnes of payable niobium, 3,237 tonnes of scandium trioxide (Sc2O3), and 359,128 tonnes of titanium dioxide (TiO2).
The pre-tax net present value (NPV) was put at US$2.3bn at an 8% discount rate, with an internal rate of return (IRR) of 24.3%.
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 can be combined with aluminum to make alloys with increased strength and improved corrosion resistance. It is also a critical component of advanced solid oxide fuel cells.
Titanium is important as an alloying agent with many metals including aluminium, molybdenum and iron.
NioCorp shares in Toronto flew 25% higher at C$0.65 on the day.