Ionic’s Phase 5 drill program to upgrade and expand rare earth resources at its Makuutu project in Uganda is speeding ahead of schedule.

To date, the company has completed 45 reconnaissance rotary air blast (RAB) holes totalling 931m at EL00147 and has drilled 51 of the 76 holes planned at EL00257.

Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) also plans to mobilise a diamond drill rig to carry out infill drilling at RL00007 to increase the resource classification to the higher confidence Indicated category, which has just enough data to permit mine planning.

The interest in upgrading and expanding REE resources is simple enough.

While Makuutu is already one of the world’s largest and most advanced ionic adsorption clay REE deposits, the recent (and attractive) Stage 1 Definitive Feasibility Study is based on just the central tenement – RL1693.

This leaves the company with five other tenements in which to upgrade existing resources (RL00007) or find new REE deposits (EL00147 and EL00257).

Additionally, the company expects the Uganda Government to approve new mining regulations this month, which will support completion of the Makuutu Mining Licence application.

“The drill program is progressing to and follows on from the encouraging results the company identified when last drilling on this tenement,” managing director Tim Harrison said.

“The strategic focus of this Phase 5 exploration program is to further define potential for further growth at Makuutu plus also support increased confidence on the next MLA area on RL00007.

“Growing the resource and defining more growth potential is a key discussion point with several potential strategic partners looking at securing the potential product from Makuutu to underpin their heavy rare earth demands in the near term to support the new economy of electrification, advanced manufacturing, and defence.”


Phase 5 drilling

The Phase 5 drill program will include about 4,380m of diamond core drilling in RL00007 and 2,230m of RAB drilling to evaluate exploration targets in EL00147 and EL00257.

Upgrading resources in RL00007 will support the Stage 2 DFS and the next MLA to be completed on RL00007 in November 2024.

Some extensional drilling is also planned on areas A and B, which could increase the overall resource at the tenement.

Makuutu currently has a resource of 532Mt grading 640 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxide (TREO), only a small part of which is located within RL00007.

Meanwhile, the zones targeted in the proposed RAB drilling program represent the highest identified TREO grade Inferred and Exploration Target mineralisation at Makuutu.

The Exploration Target of between 216Mt and 535Mt grading from 400ppm to 600ppm TREO offers significant potential for resource growth.



This article was developed in collaboration with Ionic Rare Earths, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.