"Minerals Closer to Home in Nebraska"
"Nebraska is not considered a mining state, but it can claim deposits of niobium, scandium, and titanium.
Although none are key in the race towards high-capacity batteries, each are designated critical minerals
and are the subject of supply chain concerns and of U.S. strategic planning. Niobium is mostly used
in steel and other superalloys making them lighter and stronger. Scandium is used in aluminum alloys
and ceramics with projections for use in aerospace and fuel-cell applications. Titanium is also used in
metal alloys and as a pigment.26
The presence of economically significant deposits of these important minerals has been known since
the early 1970s. Field exploration was conducted in the 1970s and 1980s at a site near Elk Creek in
southeast Nebraska. The current owner of the site, NioCorp, began detailed exploration studies and
completed27 a feasibility study in 2019. A 2022 report found that a significant amount of REEs may be
present as well, suggesting Nebraska may have the second largest deposit in the United States.28
NioCorp has already spent $60 million for exploration, permitting, and feasibility studies on its Elk
Creek Project.29 It has secured all federal construction permits through the Nebraska Department of
Environment and Energy, signed a contract with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development
for $200 million in tax credits and secured purchase contracts for portions of its niobium and scandium
output. One of these contracts with a German firm may make the project eligible for guaranteed loans
from the German government. However, after years of preparation there is still no mine."
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