Drill Core Barrel

The end of a drill's core barrel is shown outside a Niocorp Developments Ltd. event in June 2014.

Lee Enterprises file photo

Niocorp Developments Ltd. announced Thursday that it has struck a deal with a company to build a natural gas pipeline to serve its proposed mine in southeast Nebraska.

The company said in a news release that it has signed an agreement with Rockies Express Pipeline LLC to build a 27.8-mile natural gas pipeline that will supply its planned Elk Creek Superalloy Facility.

The agreement calls for Rockies Express to design, build and operate the pipeline, which will run from its main gas line in Marshall County, Kan. to the site near Elk Creek in Johnson County. Niocorp would contract separately for the purchase of the natural gas to be carried by the pipeline.

Niocorp said the deal is worth $63 million over 11 years and is dependent on the mining project going forward.

The company, which is based in the Denver area, has been working for several years to build a mine operation near Elk Creek, where it plans to extract niobium, scandium and titanium.

Niocorp earlier this year released its long-awaited feasibility study showing that the mine could be worth as much as $17.6 billion over its projected 32-year lifespan.

The company is now in the process of trying to raise the more than $1 billion needed to get the mine built. Construction is expected to take about two years.

“Arranging for long-term delivery of natural gas to the Elk Creek facility is an important milestone to have reached, and we are pleased to be working with the Rockies Express team on this important aspect of our project,” Mark A. Smith, executive chairman and CEO of Niocorp., said in a news release.

The pipeline would still need government regulatory approval, which Niocorp said Rockies Express would be responsible for securing.

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