Ionic Rare Earths has toasted “very strong” infill results from drilling at its Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda, underlining its potential for further growth.

The massive IAC style deposit is one of only a handful outside southern China, where large clay-based rare earths deposits have been one of the keys to its dominant, low-cost rare earths sector.

At Makuutu, Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) already boasts a large inferred and indicated mineral resource of 315Mt at 650ppm total rare earths oxides.

Now the 71-hole third tranche of drilling results from IXR’s 8,220m Phase 4 drilling program have come through and there are some doozies, including:

  • 11.7 metres at 1,437 ppm TREO from 4.5 metres (RRMDD447)
  • 12.0 metres at 1,468 ppm TREO from 4.5 metres (RRMDD446)
  • 8.1 metres at 1,413 ppm TREO from 7.5 metres (RRMDD449)
  • 12.3 metres at 1,268 ppm TREO from 3.2 metres (RRMDD456)
  • 11.4 metres at 1,223 ppm TREO from 8.0 metres (RRMDD444)
  • 16.4 metres at 1,210 ppm TREO from 2.0 metres (RRMDD457)
  • 14.4 metres at 1,187 ppm TREO from 5.1 metres (RRMDD454); and,
  • 13.2 metres at 1,184 ppm TREO from 2.7 metres (RRMDD394).

All 71 holes sampled in the third tranche struck shallow zones of mineralisation above the cut-off grade for the Makuutu resource.

The aim of the program is to increase resource confidence in the Makuutu Central Zone and areas F, G, H and I.

Exploration targets C, E, and the area between the Central Zone and Central Zone East have also been infill drilled to support additional resource estimates.

Resource growth imminent

The drill drive is designed to back a new mineral resource estimate in the March quarter.

With every hole in this tranche striking rare earths mineralisation, a larger, higher classification resource is likely to emerge.

“These are very strong infill results and further confirm, as I expected, the high grade, near surface and thick nature of the clay in the MCZ,” Ionic Rare Earth managing director Tim Harrison said.

“Additional to the strong infill results, assays confirm the potential for extension of mineralisation on the western side of the MCZ to extend the lobe on the northwest corner.

“Drill assays across areas F and G have delivered as expected and should also see an increase in the total resources defined at these areas. Pleasingly, these results are another positive step for the Project on delivering a larger, higher classification MRE at Makuutu.”

The final tranche from the Phase 4 program has just arrived in Perth for sampling, with lab results from three more tranches and 251 holes still to come.

Makuutu has long life potential

Located 120km east of the Ugandan capital of Kampala, Makuutu is a globally unique orebody in that it is one of the few ionic adsorption clay rare earths deposits outside China.

It is a big boy as well.

Stretching some 37km in length with the potential to be a long life, low cost source of critical and heavy rare earths for generations to come.

IAC deposits are common in southern China, delivering the world’s lowest cost heavy rare earths products, but these are strategically uncertain and gradually being exhausted.

Being located outside of China, Ionic Rare Earths offers a great opportunity for near term commercial exposure to the style of mineralisation as countries in the EU and US look to diversify away from China’s rare earths stranglehold.

Study work from IXR to date shows Makuutu has the potential to generate a high margin mixed rare earth carbonate with higher payability and basket price over 70% of the rare earths market over an operating life of over 27 years. This is likely to extend materially in 2022.




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.