Ionic drilling points to major rare earths extension potential at Makuutu
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Ionic Rare Earths’ Phase 3 exploration drilling has identified extensive thick rare earths mineralisation at the Makuutu East area in Uganda.
Assays from 56 of the 67 rotary air blast holes drilled at the Makuutu project returned total rare earths oxide, less cerium oxide (TREO-CeO2), mineralisation above the 200 parts per million (ppm) cut-off in many target areas.
Notable intervals include 12m at 937ppm TREO from 4m, 10m at 856ppm TREO from 5m and 18m at 661ppm TREO from 5m.
Adding further interest, Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) noted that rare earth element-bearing mineralisation has been intersected in between previously targeted areas identified by radiometric responses that indicate a laterite hardcap is present at surface.
This new Phase 3 drilling has confirmed the extension of the rare earth bearing clay, with assays confirming the hardcap is buried by over 1m of soil in some areas, obscuring the radiometric response. The results indicate numerous new areas for follow-up exploration that were previously not tested due to the lack of, or subdued, radiometric responses.
Managing director Tim Harrison said the Phase 3 RAB assay results have successfully confirmed the massive potential of Makuutu East by identifying immediate extensions to the resource estimate beyond previous radiometric targeting as well as potential extensions to ionic adsorption clay (IAC) mineralisation outside of the basin.
“We will now progress initial salt desorption test work to confirm metallurgical characteristics of these new mineralisation areas identified, given that some of the mineralisation appears to be derived directly from granitic rocks, therefore it is possibly more consistent with those IAC deposits of southern China,” he added.
“The Phase 3 drill assays clearly confirm the significance of Makuutu as a world-class and expanding IAC deposit.
“Simply put, there appears to be much more REE-bearing clay at Makuutu than we had initially expected.”
That’s significant given that Makuutu already has a mineral resource estimate of 315 million tonnes grading 650ppm TREO, that has the potential to support a 27 year life operation producing critical and heavy rare earths. These results suggest that with further drilling, Makuutu has the potential to grow in scale considerably.
Makuutu East is interpreted from airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys to be the continuation of the sedimentary basin that hosts the Makuutu resource.
Of the 25 RAB holes drilled in this area, 23 intersected clay or saprolite-hosted REE mineralisation.
At Area L – interpreted to be the northeastern continuation of the Makuutu resource – drilling has indicated that the area is consistently mineralised above the 200ppm cut-off grade with intercepts ranging from 4m to 17m in thickness and grades from 331ppm to 589ppm.
Notably, four of the holes intersected metasediments and a fault zone indicating they are potentially outside, or on the margin of the Makuutu sedimentary basin.
All four holes drilled to test the Area M target intersected REE mineralisation while a further three holes outside the exploration target area also hit rare earth mineralisation in clays and metasediments.
Separately, RAB holes drilled in the Makuutu Central zone to test zones that were previously excluded due to the lack of radiometric response, returned results showing that mineralisation and the sedimentary basin extend further south than the current interpretation.
Results are pending for the Makuutu western zone.
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.