L3 is now in the process of constructing a small-scale integrated demonstration plant at its Quebec facility


NioCorp achieves positive results in metallurgical testing of possible rare earth production at its Elk Creek, Nebraska Project. (Credit: NioCorp Development Ltd.)

NioCorp Developments Ltd. (“NioCorp” or the “Company”) (TSX: NB;OTCQX: NIOBF) is pleased to announce positive results from its ongoing metallurgical work regarding the process to extract rare earth elements from ore samples sourced at its Elk Creek Project (the “Project”).

Salt Lake City-based L3 Process Development (“L3”) has been conducting small scale testing for NioCorp on rare earth recovery and flowsheet improvement and is also building an integrated demonstration plant at its facility in the province of Quebec. To date, L3 has completed several dozen individual tests using portions of a three-tonne representative sample of ore collected from the Elk Creek Project drill core inventory.

Recent efforts by L3 have focused on potential rare earths recovery, including the extraction of rare earth values from the high acidity streams characteristic of those found in the existing Elk Creek niobium / scandium / titanium process flowsheet.

In a recent development, L3 has demonstrated that Scandium can be effectively extracted and separated from the rare earth elements in solution using a phosphate-based extractant. With additional work, this phosphate-based recovery process could be shown capable of replacing the phosphoric acid-based extraction process that is part of the current Project design.

L3 has further demonstrated that the rare earth elements (lanthanum through lutetium, including the magnetic rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium) can be selectively extracted and separated from the leach solution using an amide-based extractant.

“The data from this most recent solvent extraction testwork is very encouraging,” said Tommee Larochelle, Ing. PE, MBA, Chief Technology Officer, L3 Process Development. “Both the phosphate and amide-based extraction testing have performed exactly to plan, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to verify this a cost-effective way to produce commercial rare earth products from the Elk Creek flowsheet.”

Additional testing is planned at L3’s laboratory to further verify and optimize a rare earth recovery operation for the Elk Creek project as well as establishing metallurgical performance and recovery data for three prospective rare earth products: neodymium/praseodymium oxide, dysprosium oxide, and terbium oxide.

L3 is now in the process of constructing a small-scale integrated demonstration plant at its Quebec facility, which will address hydrometallurgical recommendations from the Company’s 2019 Feasibility Study as well as demonstrating potential rare earth recovery operations.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress that L3 has made to date and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them with the goal of adding additional value from the potential rare earths to the Elk Creek Project’s economics,” said Scott Honan, NioCorp’s Chief Operating Officer.

The information contained in this press release does not change any of the mineral resource or mineral reserve estimates contained in NioCorp’s April 16, 2019, NI 43-101 Technical Report, Feasibility Study, Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project, Nebraska. There has been insufficient work to define a mineral resource with respect to rare earth data and it is uncertain if further work will result in rare earth data being delineated as a mineral resource.

Source: Company Press Release