Community members look at one of the drill sites at the Niocorp Developments Ltd. proposed mine site near Elk Creek in 2014.

NioCorp in June released its long-awaited feasibility study showing how much money its proposed rare metals mine could make for the company and investors.

Now the company has produced a report showing what the niobium, scandium and titanium the mine will produce could be worth for the state's economy.

Niocorp estimates construction of the mine, which it hopes to build on land near Elk Creek in Johnson County, will create more than 1,200 construction jobs.

It plans to spend more than $1 billion on construction, which is expected to take more than three years.

Once built, the mine has an expected operating life of more than 30 years, and at peak employment, it could have more than 450 jobs, which would be about two-thirds hourly positions and one-third professional positions, said Scott Honan, vice president of business development.

Honan said most of the hourly positions would not require technical education, and the company would be willing to train people.

NioCorp estimates its annual payroll would be $39 million and that it would pay about $28 million in taxes to state and local governments, not counting for any discounts from incentive programs. The company has applied to the Nebraska Advantage program, and based on its proposed investment and job creation would qualify for the highest level of tax incentives.

NioCorp also projects it will pay nearly $150 million in royalties to local landowners over the first 20 years of the mine's operation.

The company is hosting a town hall meeting Friday night in Syracuse to provide an update on its feasibility study and answer questions from area residents. The meeting is at the Kimmel Ag Expo Center and begins at 6 p.m.

Jim Sims, NioCorp's vice president of external affairs, said the thing he gets asked about most often at such meetings is when the project will get going.

That totally depends on how the process of getting financing goes. Now that the company has completed its feasibility study, it is working on getting additional financing both from investors and lenders.

"The reaction's been good," Sims said about efforts so far.

He said the fact that NioCorp has most of its necessary environmental permits and has commitments to buy 75 percent of the niobium it will produce have made the project less of a financial risk.

If all goes well, Sims said, construction could start as early as spring.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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