• 2 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 2 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 2 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 2 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 2 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 2 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 2 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 2 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 2 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 3 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 3 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 3 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 3 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 3 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 3 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 3 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 3 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 4 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 4 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 4 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 5 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 5 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 5 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 5 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 5 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 5 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 6 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 6 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 6 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 6 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Alt Text

Who’s Winning The Electric Vehicle Race?

Automakers and suppliers of automotive…

Alt Text

Tesla Execs Bail As Cash Flow Hits Record Lows

Amid a rough second quarter…

Alt Text

Is Hydrogen Fuel As Dumb As Musk Thinks?

Hydrogen fuel cells have been…

Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

More Info

Alternative Energy Industry Breathes a Sign of Relief as Rare Earth Elements Found in Nebraska

Alternative Energy Industry Breathes a Sign of Relief as Rare Earth Elements Found in Nebraska

Nebraska is one of those places the coastees like to dis as nowhere.  Nebraska is a big mostly flat state that if driving across is best done at night.  It’s as dull a drive as can be imagined on I-80.  Not many folks there, for all the noise over the Cornhusker Kickback, it wouldn’t have involved many people.

May 5th 2010 saw a not well-noticed announcement that Quantum Rare Earth Developments of Vancouver, BC, Canada was drawn to a 14-square-mile deposit on the Nebraska Johnson-Pawnee County line because of increasing demand for rare earth elements and the political uncertainty of current supplies from places such as China and Brazil.

Axcess News headlines the prospect: Largest Rare Earth Mine in the World Discovered in Nebraska.  A bit comical to the locals, the so-called “Elk Creek carbonatite” formation has been known locally and among state geologists for more than 40 years. More than 100 test drillings were done in the 1970s and 1980s. But with the minerals 500 feet or deeper, it was too expensive to commercially mine. Cheaper and more easily accessible supplies were available overseas.

Elk Creek Carbonite Formation Map
Elk Creek Carbonatite Formation Map.

But last summer, China, which supplies more than 90 percent of the rare earth elements imported to the United States, indicated that it might withhold its supplies for use by only Chinese high-tech industries.  That triggered concern about the security of the flow of such minerals and renewed interest in the carbonatite formations in North America that hold rare earth minerals and niobium.

The prospect is known to have neodymium, which is used in the powerful magnets, needed for wind turbine generators and electric cars, lanthanum, used in batteries in laptop computers and hybrid cars and niobium used in steel alloys that go into jet engines, pacemakers, gas pipelines and superconducting wire.

The news has to send a gush of relief across the whole alternative energy industry.
About 15 landowners near Elk Creek and Steinauer Nebraska have signed five-year leases to allow test drilling on their farmland.

Erin Chutter, a director of Quantum said, “This ranks up there as one of the most important niobium resources known. That’s obviously very exciting for miners and very exciting for Nebraska if it comes together.”

Nebraska State Senator Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek, who had worked on the exploratory drilling crews back in the 1970s and 1980s and later helped mine gold in Alaska and helped officials sign up landowners for the exploratory project believes, “If they decide to put a mine down, it won’t be tens of millions of dollars in investment, it would be hundreds of millions.  If it happens, it could be huge for the state of Nebraska.”

Matt Joeckel, an assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln said the Conservation and Survey Division saves lots of information about underground water and mineral deposits that might have economic potential. Joeckel traveled to California a decade ago to retrieve valuable documents associated with the Elk Creek formation.  “It didn’t take a genius to figure out that there might be interest in this deposit again,” he said.

Joeckel also points out an important point – the minerals in the Elk Creek formation are “the star elements of the high-tech age.”

One wishes Nebraska well on this.  But Brazil supplies about 75 percent of the niobium needed by the United States.  The manufacturing base in the U.S. for using these minerals isn’t on the growth climb that China is experiencing.  Yet, demand is sure to increase worldwide.  Permanent magnets are key for efficient electric motors.

Ms. Chutter points out the project is in the exploratory stage. It will take four to five months for Quantum to complete a $10 million purchase of Elk Creek Resources Corp., a Canadian-owned, Nebraska-based company that originally leased the southeast Nebraska property.

More exploratory drilling to prove up the underground resources is next.  Chutter said the economics of a U.S. mine appear “very, very sound” over the next decade, with niobium the most promising mineral at this time.  “We’re pretty early in the process. We just have to get on the ground and start drilling.”

How sure is this reserve?  The U.S. Geological Survey identified the Elk Creek formation as one of the biggest resources of niobium globally. It’s certainly the biggest in the U.S.

Some quotes are golden er, niobium, “It’s one of those lost geological secrets that wasn’t well-known,” Chutter said. “People in Elk Creek knew it. The broader world really didn’t know about it.”

We do now and are mighty happy the folks in Nebraska have it!

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: New Energy and Fuel




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News