Special Report: Ionic Rare Earths has confirmed the continuation of mineralisation in the exciting EL 1766 anomaly at its Makuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda.

Drill assays from a recently completed program identified a further elevated heavy rare earths (HREO) zone at Ionic Rare Earths’ (ASX:IXR) Makuutu, where exploration has recently targeted a massive radiometric anomaly documented in November.

All of the reported drill hole assays from recent exploration have confirmed intervals above the existing resource cut-off grade at Makuutu, and the company said a large proportion of holes showed elevated proportions of HREO consistent with those also announced in November.

The project currently has a mineral resource of 76.8 million tonnes grading 840 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) for 66,000 contained tonnes of TREO.

The current drill program at EL 1766 is expected to significantly grow these numbers, with an update expected in the first quarter of next year.

Ionic also recently applied for exploration licences on the land adjoining EL 1766, with today’s announced results highly encouraging for that area.

Ionic Rare Earths chief executive officer Tim Harrison said the results highlighted the scope for a resource upgrade at Makuutu.

“These results confirm the potential of EL 1766 to add a material increase in resource tonnage,” he said.  “This exceeds expectations.”

“The positive takeaway here is the elevated proportion of HREO is between 30 to 40% of the TREO grade along the boundary of EL 1766 and the new exploration licence application TN03424.”

In addition to a mineral resource upgrade, Mr Harrison said Ionic would focus on initiating new parallel work streams to expedite the development of Makuutu.

The company will also update its scoping study once a revised mineral resource estimate is released.


Phase Two drilling a success

Today’s announcement marks the fourth tranche of assays received from the phase two drill program at Makuutu, where 3,745 metres of core drilling were carried out across three tenements in the area.

The program tested an area more than three times greater than that covered by the existing mineral resource, and was designed to quantify the potential of the 26km long Makuutu mineralisation corridor.

Ionic Makuutu
The drill program plan showing drill holes stretching over 26 kilometres across the three tenements at the Makuutu Rare Earths Project with the MRE and target areas. Pic: company supplied

The latest assay results show mineralisation with an average thickness of 6m, ranging from 1.8m to 11.9m, with TREO grades ranging from 515ppm to 854ppm at an average of 604ppm.

Standout assays from the latest tranche of results include:

  • 8m at 653ppm TREO from 2.4m in RRMDD170;
  • 9m at 610ppm TREO from 3.6m in RRMDD169; and
  • 3m at 599ppm TREO from 5.3m in RRMDD166.


Ionic finds comfort in clay

The Makuutu Rare Earths Project is considered unique among its ASX-listed peers, with ionic adsorption mineralisation hosted in near-surface clay.

The project’s geology is said to be similar to southern China’s rare earths deposits, which are widely regarded as some of the cheapest and most readily accessible sources of HREO extracted through relatively simple mining and processing methods.

At Makuutu, Ionic believes it could be sitting on one of the largest ionic clay deposits outside of China.

“Makuutu is a truly unique as an ionic clay based CREO/HREO dominant project when compared to other types of rare earth peers listed on the ASX,” Mr Harrison said.

“Ionic clay mineralisation projects are characterised by simpler mining and processing and higher value basket potential, including a more even spread of highly desired HREOs.

“Importantly, approximately one-third of the Makuutu product is magnet metals, including 5% dysprosium and terbium. This has the potential to generate a high margin for an expected long-life, low cost CREO/HREO asset.”


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.