Mining firm says tests of mineral deposit positive


ELK CREEK, Neb. (AP) — The samples of a rare heat-resistant element being collected from beneath southeast Nebraska this summer are improving the chances of a mine being built.

NioCorp Developments said Wednesday that drilling results continue to exceed expectations. Some of the latest niobium samples are of higher quality than most samples from the site near Elk Creek.

The company says it found niobium in locations it hadn't encountered the rare metal before.

NioCorp officials say good progress is being made at developing a method to separate the niobium from other elements.

The U.S. currently imports nearly all the niobium that's used in this country to harden steel and make it more heat-resistant for industrial uses.

NioCorp previously estimated that more than 100 million tons of niobium rests several hundred feet below the ground.

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