Ionic exploration target could lead to doubling of Makuutu rare earths resource
Ionic could as much as double recently upgraded resources at its Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda if future drilling validates its recently revised exploration target.
The exploration target of between 216Mt and 535Mt grading 400ppm to 600ppm total rare earth oxides (TREO), which factors in the successful Phase 3 rotary air blast drill results from July 2021, is still conceptual at this stage and represents a potential additional long-term target.
But Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) is already taking steps in this direction with plans underway for a Phase 5 exploration program that will target areas for further resource growth and to confirm extent of mineralisation across targets already identified.
“The long-term exploration potential is immense,” managing director Tim Harrison noted.
“This updated exploration target, which factors in the successful Phase 3 RAB drilling assay results from July 2021, confirms the massive potential of EL00147, having identified immediate extensions to the resource estimate beyond previous radiometric targeting.
“Additionally, the new tenement at EL00257 would provide additional upside beyond this target.”
The planned Phase 5 drill program seeks to define the extent of REE bearing clay mineralisation initially, with a longer term plan to establish at least Inferred level resources in the target areas.
Initial work will consist of field mapping and sampling of outcropping rocks to assist in identifying potential REE source rocks.
Ionic will then carry out further RAB drilling in target areas A5 and A6 to reduce the drill hole spacing from 1km to a maximum of 500m, providing greater confidence in the mineralisation and samples for geochemical analysis and indicative metallurgy test work.
This will be followed by core drilling targeting areas based on the outcomes of the RAB drilling. Core drilling will also test targets A1 to A4, located within project retention licences RL00007, RL1693 and RL00234, for resource addition.
Once this is completed, the company will then proceed with resource modelling.
Makuutu is one of the world’s most significant non-Chinese ionic adsorption clay-hosted rare earths deposits.
Resources were recently upgraded to 532Mt grading 640ppm TREO with higher confidence Indicated Resource making up about 76% of this amount.
Adding further interest, the recent upgrade found that highly valuable heavy and critical rare earths collectively make up a substantial 42% of the resource.
This updated resource is now being used by Ionic to complete mine planning activities that will feed into the Makuutu feasibility study and be submitted to the Ugandan Government as part of its mining licence application by the end of October 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.