Ionic Rare Earths has commenced its Phase 5 drilling program at the Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda.

The program is aimed at upgrading the 39 million tonnes at 470 ppm Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) Inferred Resources on Retention Licence (RL) 00007 to an Indicated Resource category.

In March, Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) announced a positive stage 1 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the first of 6 tenements to progress to a MLA which is pending in Uganda.

The Stage 1 DFS defined a 35-year life initial project producing a 71% rich magnet and heavy rare earth carbonate (MREC) product basket and the potential for significant potential and scale up through additional tenements.

The Stage 1 MLA is expected to be awarded in Q2 2023, and the company says this drilling program will also support the Stage 2 DFS and the next Mining Licence Application (MLA) which is expected to be completed on RL00007 in November 2024.


Large exploration targets to grow Ionic

Makuutu currently ranks amongst the world’s largest and most advanced ionic adsorption clay (IAC) deposits, and as such, a globally strategic resource for near term, low capital development and long- term security of magnet and heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) supply.

With the addition of the other tenements at Makuutu, the larger consolidated Project has substantial scope for future growth, and increasing geopolitical importance, to underpin the establishment of western sources for new magnet and heavy rare earths supply chains.

“I am excited to have resumed drilling at Makuutu,” IonicRE MD Tim Harrison said.

“Further to the substantial base we have defined as part of the Stage 1 DFS at Makuutu with the MLA over RL 1693 pending, we have ambitious plans for further growth along the 37 km long mineralised corridor on our tenements.”

The company will also undertake reconnaissance drilling at large exploration targets identified at both Exploration Licences (EL) 00147 and 00257, with the plan to evaluate areas with known REE mineralisation and which contains several untested geophysical anomaly target areas, respectively.


Makuutu Project resource map showing resources and the Makuutu western tenement, RL00007 (highlighted orange), the Stage 1 Mining Licence Application TN03834 (red border) and exploration target areas. Pic: Supplied (IXR)


Second drill rig expected within the month

To date only reconnaissance field inspection has been conducted on EL00257, and the company expects the drilling program will initially determine the endowment of REE in the area – with the ultimate goal of generating additions to an updated exploration target.

“With a 2nd rig due to arrive on site in coming weeks, we will complete a substantial amount of core and RAB drilling during this Phase 5 program to provide further growth opportunities and to support the next MLA on the Makuutu western zone,” Harrison said.

“This drilling will also refine our potential growth targets to the east at the massive EL00147 target, and the new north-western target at EL00257.”



This article was developed in collaboration with Ionic Rare Earths Limited, 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.