NioBay Metals has announced the signing of a protection agreement (PA) with the Moose Cree First Nation for its James Bay niobium project located in Ontario, Canada. In January 2019, NioBay Metals received an exploration permit from the Canadian Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines but the group committed not to proceed without the support of the Cree First Nation Community. The signed PA will allow NioBay Metals to initiate its planned 2020 drilling program. NioBay Metals is now working on an updated resource estimate for the deposit, followed by a preliminary economic assessment.
Based upon October 2018 estimates, indicated and inferred resources for the James Bay deposit totalled 51.3Mt with an average Nb2O5 grade of 0.52%. Mineral resources were reported at a cut-off grade of 0.3% Nb2O5 and estimated to be able to sustain operations for more than 20 years. Niobay’s James Bay project is still facing several hurdles both technical and financial. Should these obstacles be cleared, it is thought that production would not take place until 2023 at the earliest.
Niobay Metals also holds a 72.5% interest in Crevier Minerals, which owns a niobium-tantalum deposit in the Lac St-Jean area of Québec, on which it is proceeding with metallurgical test work.
The NioBay’s James Bay project is one of several new developments aiming to take advantage of steady demand for niobium, which grew at a 3%py CAGR over the last decade. Over 90% of all niobium is used by the steel industry with Chinese demand being the main driver; however, electric vehicle batteries may prove to be a new and important growth application for niobium in the coming years.
The niobium industry is currently dominated by Brazil’s CBMM which has a 78% market share.
Roskill’s NEW Niobium: Outlook to 2029, 15th Edition report will be published in January 2020. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages for the report, or to access further information.