Ionic Rare Earths will soon kick off the fourth phase of drilling at its Makuutu rare earth project in Uganda.

The significant infill drill program will be focused on increasing the indicated resource base at Makuutu, with Ionic (ASX:IXR) planning to start with one drill rig before mobilising a second.

The program will allow Ionic to move material from the inferred to the indicated component of the resource base at Makuutu, enabling it to incorporate more of the rare earth element (REE) hosted ionic adsorption clay total resource tonnage into updated economic studies.

A recently announced initial, robust scoping study incorporated just 26% of the total Makuutu mineral resource estimate of massive 315 million tonnes at 650 parts per million total rare earth oxide (TREO).

Inferred resources currently account for 248 million tonnes of the overall resource.

By moving more of these tonnes into the indicated category, Ionic will be able to include them in future studies including the bankable feasibility study for Makuutu.

The program also includes a resource extension drilling allocation scheduled to convert some exploration targets on licence RL1693.

Phase three now complete

The beginning of phase four drilling at Makuutu comes shortly following the end of a 1200m rotary air blast (RAB) phase three drill program which tested all five tenements at the project.

Among the areas tested were radiometric target anomalies detected within the 37-kilometre-long sedimentary basin which hosts the Makuutu mineralisation, including the highly prospective EL00147.

These targets also included drilling on licences RL00007, RL1693 and EL1766 with potential to indicate further resource extension across these tenements.

Assays for that work are expected in June. There were positive signs reporting from drilling during phase three at the project.

The Makuutu project is drawing attention from around the world, and Ionic recently struck a memorandum of understanding with Chinalco, the world’s largest market capitalised rare earth miner and separator, over its potential development. The Company also advised other discussions with other potential strategic partners continue.


Ionic Rare Earths
The mineral resource estimate areas at Makuutu by classification, with location of recently completed phase three RAB holes shown in blue. Pic: Supplied.

A rare kind of project

Makuutu is one of the world’s largest ionic adsorption clay deposits. These deposits have immense strategic value and importance, which will likely escalate in time as the REOs produced from such deposits are dominant in the high value heavy rare earths.

Deposits of this kind are commonly considered to be some of the cheapest and most readily accessible sources of heavy rare earths, as they can be desorbed from clay using a simple salt process.

The project is located 120km east of Kampala in Uganda, where it is well serviced by existing high quality infrastructure including roads, rail, power infrastructure and cell communications.


Ionic Rare Earths
The Makuutu project in regional context. Pic: Supplied





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.