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Mining firm says latest drilling results should strengthen case to build mine for rare mineral

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ELK CREEK, Nebraska — The latest samples collected from a deposit of a rare, heat-resistant mineral in southeast Nebraska will likely strengthen a Canadian mining firm's case for building a mine.

NioCorp Developments said Thursday it has completed most of the drilling planned this year near Elk Creek. The rest of the drilling will wrap up over the next few weeks.

The data from these latest samples will be combined with earlier results to produce a detailed report on the feasibility of raising more than $300 million to build a niobium mine.

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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