Ionic Rare Earths has received approval from the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) for works to commence on the Demonstration Plant at its Makuutu Mine.

The plant is expected to validate and optimise the project’s Stage 1 Definitive Feasibility Study results and to provide a foundation for grade control, mine design, material handling, metallurgical reconciliation and scale up construction activity to support the commercial project financing process.

Manufacture and construction of the permanent metallurgical and analytical test laboratories have now commenced, including a demonstration scale agglomerator to prepare mine ore for heap desorption treatment.

Construction of Phase 1 will be completed by late Q2, with the plant expected to be operational during Q3 2023.


De-risking development and scale up

Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) says the demonstration plant will de-risk the entire process chain of Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) production from mining to transportation to potential customer facilities. 

Ionic’s MD Tim Harrison says the commencement of the Demonstration Plant construction, plus approval to proceed granted by the MEMD in Uganda, represents “an exciting milestone for the project and the company.”

“With the Makuutu Stage 1 DFS now completed, and MLA progressing in Uganda, the support from the MEMD to approve progressing to the next step is a positive signal as well as their commitment to sustaining an enabling environment and continued support for the development of the Makuutu rare earths project,” he said.

“This project will be Uganda’s flagship, long-life mine.

“We expect that as we progress through Q2, we will continue to receive positive support on the application, and greater definition on the role Makuutu will play in establishing a heavy rare earths supply opportunity to Western end users.”


Phase 2 will facilitate offtake discussions

The second phase of the Demonstration Plant is expected to commence this year, and will produce significant quantities of mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) for downstream supply chain partner engagement, facilitate off-take, and will also provide feed material to supply IonicRE’s own downstream refinery program.

“The process of de-risking the operation and providing MREC samples is essential to the next stage of attracting supply chain partners and moving towards a Final Investment Decision on the positive outcome of the demonstration plant,” Harrison said.

Ionic says the complete demonstration plant facility, including both phases 1 and 2, will be operational during Q4 2023.




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.