EDITOR: | June 23rd, 2014 | 14 Comments

Mark Smith to turn NioCorp into one of the top niobium producers in the world

| June 23, 2014 | 14 Comments

Smith-Mark-NioCorpJune 23, 2014 — Tracy Weslosky, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of InvestorIntel speaks to Mark A. Smith, CEO and Director for NioCorp (TSXV: NB | OTCQX: NIOBF) about the company’s Elk Creek project in southeastern Nebraska. NioCorp recently announced some very favorable drilling results. NioCorp’s Elk Creek deposit is rich in barium, rare earth element mineralization and especially high grade concentrations of niobium, which will be the main focus of the project.

NioCorp announced that it has a second drill rig on site; while that may not appear to be ‘big news’, it does suggest, as Mark says, that the Company is very committed to the project rather than “simply putting a hole and so that we can get a little resource information and then put another hole in next year. We are moving this project into development as fast as we can.” NioCorp has already sent the first samples from the drilling for analysis and the results are expected before the end of the month.   NioCorp’s background is very interesting and shares a history with Molycorp. The Elk Creek property itself was first discovered by Molycorp in the late 1960’s and even did some work there in 2010. However, Mark Smith, himself, has a very interesting background that also includes managing Molycorp and Tracy suggests that anyone with an interest in the sector should learn about Mark’s accomplishments in the rare earth industry. Mark says that after leaving Molycorp, in late 2012, he had thought of retiring. He was asked by NioCorp to lead its management team. Mark says he did some ‘due diligence’ in the first months of 2013 and eventually started buying stock in the company, becoming the single largest shareholder by September 2013. Mark says that “it became evident that I liked the project a lot and I needed to be more engaged.”   Mark has a lot of praise for the people at NioCorp and their commitment to taking what is known as the third largest niobium deposit in the world and the only primary niobium deposit in the United States and then “converting it into the fourth producing niobium asset in the world.”  The big question, as Tracy points out, is: why niobium? Few know that 100% of the niobium used in North America’s market (the global niobium market is about 80,000 to 100,000 tons a year) has to be imported. Most of the niobium is produced at a mine in Brazil. While it is crucial for the electric car industry, it is actually in demand by the automotive sector as a whole.

Niobium is mostly used in the construction sector, especially in such things as bridges and roads because it adds strength to steel while reducing its weight. The automotive sector is the second largest user and as Mark says “every steel bodied car made in the world today has niobium in it,” which helps reduce fuel consumption and add safety. Mark also notes that “both the EU and the United States have deemed niobium as a strategic metal”. Mark also offers a brief take into the rare earth and critical metals sector. It is interesting to find out that Mark has “not sold even one of his Molycorp shares”, remaining fully committed to that project and to the rare earths sector, which he sees as having recovered some stability.

Disclaimer: NioCorp is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel.


Adrian Nixon is a Senior Editor at InvestorIntel. He began his career as a scientist and is a Chartered Chemist and Member of the Royal ... <Read more about Adrian Nixon>

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  • David Mortimer

    I wonder how difficult will it be for them to get the money for such a huge project 400 million $ , can they get that easy enough?

    June 23, 2014 - 6:24 PM

  • Robert Mackay

    I wish them luck finding a buyer for the Niobium when Russia starts production at Tomtor.
    154 million tonnes of ore containing 6.71% of niobium oxide makes it hard for any Niobium deal to complete.

    June 23, 2014 - 6:40 PM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      Is this “the” Mr. Mackay? Nice to hear from you. If anyone has a track on what the Russians are doing then certainly we are receiving some Intel worth chewing on…thank you. This said, would the Russians not sell their niobium to China first? Mark and his team are talking about the good ole “Sustainability” rock n’ roll. Musk wants his Tesla’s built with this in mind…

      June 23, 2014 - 7:08 PM

      • Robert Mackay


        The Chinese own 15% of CBMM and paid $1.95 billion for it. This is why, from a geological report found on the web.
        Two types of niobium ores are found in Araxá: the primary ore already described
        with a mean grade of 1.5% Nb2O5, and a maximum grade of 8% Nb2O5, and the
        residual ore with a mean concentration of 2.5% Nb2O5. The 450 million tons of residual ore are sufficient to satisfy current world demand
        for centuries. The ore mined in open pits which feeds the plants has a grade of 2.5 % Nb2O5, and it is up to 250 m thick. New drilling performed in 2001 revealed zones with 4.6 to 7 % Nb2O5.

        When the Iron curtian came down the first group to look at Tomtor was CCBM. This is the only deposit in the world IMO that could upset CCBM as the Niobium is a byproduct

        June 24, 2014 - 1:23 AM

        • David Mortimer

          Any opinion on stans energy Robert hell out there still for us investors , I’m invested in Niocorp as well thanks for cheering me up .

          June 24, 2014 - 4:55 PM

  • Robert Mackay


    I do not have any comment on Stans. As for Niobium, I looked at that market years ago and came to the conclusion that it is a market that you have to have buyers locked into a long term contracts before you can finance
    The richest family in Brazil controls about 80% the market and sold 15 % to the Koreans and 15% to the Chinese who are the two of the biggest steel makers in the world. I doubt they will change allegiance after each spending $1,950,000,000 to guarantee supply.
    The Brazilians have a 400 year mine life, high grade, metallurgy, and interesting, the US military set the deal up.

    June 24, 2014 - 8:43 PM

    • Mortimer

      Sorry to see you go from Stans and I hope you are well , so would you advise get out of Niocorp if it hits a good high ?

      June 25, 2014 - 7:25 AM

      • Robert Mackay

        Mark Smith walked the halls of Congress lobbying for rare earths and he did it successfully when he was with MolyCorp. National security was the theme and it worked. Brazil is not China and as I said, the US military assisted in getting Araxá into production.
        I have not looked in detail at NioCorp’s deposit other than it is low grade in relation to Araxá or Tomtor, and if it is radioactive which many deposits are that will extend the permitting time from an average of 7 years in the US to probably 10 plus years.
        I will look at the NI 43-101 next.

        June 25, 2014 - 9:43 AM

  • Rainier Verschuren

    I found this report of the German national mining office:


    It says on page 4 that the Tomtor deposit is not very likely to be developed in the near future due to the extreme climate, the lack of any infrastructure and the cryptocristalline structure of the ore, which seems to be a metallurgical problem.

    July 2, 2014 - 3:39 AM

  • Peter

    Robert Mackay, you quoted in your post that you have not looked in detail at NioCorp’s deposit. That comes across as quite obvious.
    Elk Creek has been worked on since the late 1960s, 45+ years! The Niobium deposit sits on private land with “full” local and State support! jobs and investment vigorously supported! permitting and hurdle’s do not exsist as you unwittingly are stating, 10yrs??
    I suggest you should stay tuned, and if you haven’t picked up any shares yet well maybe you should, just giving you the heads-up.

    October 28, 2014 - 1:50 PM

  • Tracy Weslosky

    We have scheduled an interview update with Mark mid-November and will advise you when complete. Thanks for visiting InvestorIntel.

    October 28, 2014 - 3:09 PM

  • Sunnyvale

    If you read Mr Mackay’s reply carefully, you’ll see that the 10 year estimate was IF the deposit was radioactive. In your reply Peter, you tout a lot of benefits but failed to mention the radioactivity issue. Long Niocorp.

    October 28, 2014 - 4:22 PM

  • Peter

    I will look forward to that Tracy, mid Nov. there will have been a lot of N/R’s out by then!
    Tracy please can you make a note for yourself and ask Mark about when he anticipates NioCorp will list on the “NYSE”, I’m expecting that soon, and that will be a game changer for NioCorp. IMO
    Exciting times in the next 2-4 months!
    Take care,
    Cheers, Peter.

    October 28, 2014 - 11:54 PM

  • Peter

    Thanks Tracy I’m looking forward to your interview with Mark. How does one get any more validation regarding a micro-cap company going big time than with the recent news that “Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley” are now onboard with NioCorp, to move this company headlong into the big leagues! I have been de-risked on NB for many months now, but for all of you naysayers, are you sticking with your negative attitude on this company? or have you finally capitulated that NioCorp is for real! unlike the vast majority of junior mining companies on venture exchanges who are nothing more than wannabe’s, and relegated to the embarrassing acts of pumping and dumping and eventually getting de-listed.

    December 3, 2014 - 7:55 AM

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