Ionic resumes rare earths exploration after getting green light from Uganda
Special Report: Ionic has restarted exploration at its Makuutu rare earths project, with more than 90 per cent of its planned 4,000m program within the 26km-long mineralised corridor still to be drilled.
The eight infill holes drilled before the COVID-19 pandemic halted work – including holes outside the known corridor – have already exceeded Ionic Rare Earths’ (ASX: IXR) expectations.
They demonstrate the large, high-grade and continuous nature of the resource with assays of up to 10.8m at 1,533 parts per million (ppm) total rare earths oxides (TREO) just 3.6m from surface.
A further three exploration ‘step-out’ holes returned results of up to 8m at 1,077ppm TREO from 4.5m, which highlights the potential to expand the current resource.
Drilling is set to kick off in early July.
Makuutu, one of very few ionic adsorption clay-hosted projects outside of China, currently has a resource of 47.3 million tonnes grading 910ppm TREO for the project.
Besides a relatively simple method of rare earth recovery, it is located close to well maintained and available local infrastructure, including cheap hydroelectric power.
Metallurgical variability testwork released in February showed recovery of up to 75% TREO less cerium while recent metallurgical optimisation test work has also increased rare earths element recovery in some lower recovery areas with less than 10% TREO-Ce by seven fold.
Furthermore, the metallurgical testwork has indicated that Makuutu has potential to produce a product basket with an elevated composition of high value critical and heavy rare earths, with recent testwork showing greater than 50% critical rare earth oxides and 47% heavy rare earth oxides content.
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