NioCorp to deploy additional environmental controls at its proposed Nebraska critical minerals mine
NioCorp Developments Ltd. announced that advanced emissions control technologies it plans to deploy in its proposed Elk Creek Superalloy Materials project are now expected to reduce air emissions below levels that would trigger the need for a federal air permit under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program. The project now expects to apply for a state construction air permit from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), which is designed to ensure the maintenance of air quality standards for lower-emissions projects.
NioCorp’s efforts to reduce its air emissions, and associated environmental impacts, is expected to allow the project to navigate a more efficient permitting process than is typically encountered under the U.S. EPA’s PSD process. For example:
• Federal air permits that govern higher-emitting facilities require a more extensive application process and often involve longer timelines for approvals than non-PSD processes. NioCorp’s project may therefore benefit from a more efficient air emissions permitting regime.
• The often-complex and costly best available control technology assessment required under the U.S. EPA’s PSD program may no longer be necessary for the project.
• While still very rigorous, air emissions modeling protocols for lower-emitting facilities are less complex than for higher-emitting facilities under the U.S. EPA’s PSD process, which may save applicants time and money.
• The project may be eligible for a variance under state law to allow construction to start before a final state construction air permit is issued.
NioCorp’s early efforts to recycle process reagents is expected to reduce the emissions profile of its superalloy materials manufacturing plant. In addition, it plans to minimize expected emissions through such technologies as baghouses, scrubbers, low nitrogen oxide (NOx) combustion systems, state-of-the-art acid regeneration, and other technologies.
“Our goal from day one of this project was to produce environmentally friendly superalloy materials in an environmentally friendly manner,” said Mark A. Smith, CEO and executive chairman of NioCorp. “Our plans to recycle chemical reagents as much as possible, employ advanced emissions scrubber technologies, and utilize low NOx combustion burners are expected to help us to significantly reduce our air emissions profile. By making the early investment necessary to reduce our environmental impacts, we strive to do what is right by the environment while also reaping the benefits of navigating a more efficient environmental permitting process.”
Scott Honan, President of Elk Creek Resources Corp., the operating subsidiary of NioCorp Developments Ltd., said: “The state of Nebraska’s Construction Air Permit process is very rigorous, and rightfully so. Our team looks forward to continuing to engage with Nebraska’s air quality regulators, as we have since 2016, to ensure that this project meets or exceeds all air quality standards set by the State of Nebraska.”
The Company expects to submit an application to the State Construction Air Permit program in July of 2019.