Ionic has kicked off Phase 2 metallurgical testing at its Makuutu ionic clay rare earths project in Uganda that will incorporate optimisation work completed to date. 

The test work program is intended to expand the knowledge of metallurgical performance across the resource areas along with analysis of scandium extraction based upon the optimised conditions.

Ionic adsorption clay deposits are commonly considered to be some of the cheapest and most readily accessible sources of heavy rare earths, as they can be desorbed from the clay using a simple salt desorption process.

Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) has also started heap leach optimisation test work with ANSTO Minerals in Sydney.

Initial heap leach work had performed as expected with no fatal flaws to date. Heap leaching of ionic clays have been used in China for the past 40 years.

The company also expects to release the findings of its scoping study in mid-April to include the recent resource upgrade.

Makuutu rare earths

The Makuutu mineralisation rests within a 37km long sedimentary basin that was interpreted from aeromagnetic and gravity data though the current resource of 315Mt grading 650ppm to has been identified over a 20km strike.

This means that there is room for the resource, already one of the largest of its kind outside of China, to grow further.

Higher value heavy rare earth oxides and critical rare earth oxides also make up 26 per cent and 35 per cent of the total rare earths content, respectively.

Makuutu also benefits from its proximity to infrastructure being just 10km from Highway 109, which is a sealed bitumen road connecting to Kampala, to Kenya and on to the Port of Mombasa.

All weather access roads connect the site to the adjacent sealed bitumen highway while a rail line lies within 10 kilometres north of the Makuutu site near the town of Iganga.

There is also ready access to cheap power given its proximity to four hydroelectric power plants.



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.