Special Report: Africa-focused rare earths company Ionic Rare Earths has started marketing scandium, a by-product from its Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda.

Scandium, a strategic metal that trades for approximately $US1,500 per kg or $US1.5m per tonne, will provide a fresh revenue stream for Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR).

IonicRE is targeting annual production of 10 to 20 tonnes per year for its scandium by-product from its Makuutu project, likely to significantly offset operating costs.

“Scandium represents another potential key differentiator for Makuutu,” managing director Tim Harrison said.

The company has started talks with a number of customers for aluminium-scandium alloys in the global transport and space sectors, the largest potential market.

Scandium alloyed with aluminium has several functional benefits, such as corrosion resistance, improved weldability, strength and fatigue resistance.

As little as 0.05 to 0.1 per cent of scandium in aluminium alloys can significantly improve the metal’s performance.

Scandium as an alloy can improve the performance of aluminium metal used in transport and space industries. Image: company supplied

Scandium by-product offers supply diversity to customers

“The opportunity for long life scandium production from Makuutu represents a significant potential feed source for the developing Al-Sc markets that require both diversity in supply and low-cost production capacity to support more wide scale mass adoption,” said Harrison.

IonicRE has engaged scandium market expert John Carr as its Scandium Market Advisor.

Carr has a wealth of sector experience and was executive general manager for marketing at metals technology company Clean TeQ (ASX:CLQ) for five years during which time he developed company marketing strategy and customer networks in Europe, North America and Asia.

“We are very pleased to have engaged John to assist IonicRE in planning and developing a scandium marketing strategy, greatly assisting the company realise the accretive value of scandium to Makuutu,” said Harrison.

“Our belief is that a multi-faceted approach and early collaborative engagement is required to ensure success in the scandium market,” he added.

IonicRE is working toward expanding its current mineral resource estimate (MRE) for its Makuutu project of 78.6 million tonnes at 840 ppm total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) at a cut-off grade of 300 ppm TRE). The MRE also includes 30 ppm Sc2O3 which is additional to the reported TREO grade.


Makuutu rare earths project has 30-year mine life

The Makuutu project located 120 km east of Uganda’s capital of Kampala is host to an ionic adsorption clay (IAC) rare earth element deposit that stretches for 37 km with less than 3m of cover. The project is unique compared to other ASX listed rare earth projects, and as an IAC project, will produce a high value basket product via simple low capex mining and processing route.

The project has the potential of generating high margin product with a mine life of 30 years.

IonicRE’s Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda is located close to the central African country’s capital Kampala. Image: company supplied

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.