Beyond Mining: NioCorp Eyes Rare Earth Recycling

by | 19. Apr 2024 - 10:31 | Economy

Canadian mining group plans feasibility study for its Elk Creek project in the U.S.

The Canadian mining group NioCorp wants to mine and process niobium, titanium, and rare earths as part of its Elk Creek project in the state of Nebraska in the U.S. A feasibility study is now to show whether the recycling of rare earth permanent magnets would also be economical. The planned production of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium oxide in Elk Creek could thus be expanded, the company said. The demand for these raw materials is increasing, primarily due to their importance for electromobility and wind power; the supply of so-called heavy rare earths such as terbium and dysprosium, which are more challenging to extract and have so far only been mined in China and Myanmar, is considered particularly critical. The process flow developed for Elk Creek can be adapted to the recycling of rare earths without major changes, said Scott Honan, Chief Operating Officer of NioCorp

With the growing demand for critical minerals, recycling could become an increasingly important source of raw materials. Other companies along the value chain, such as the Australian mining group Ionic Rare Earths and German magnet manufacturer Vacuumschmelze, are also expanding their recycling business areas. In addition, numerous government support measures are aimed at the circular economy; the U.S., for example, wants to expand the extraction of raw materials from wastewater.


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