Massive rare earth resource upgrade confirms this deposit as one of the best in the world
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Special Report: Ionic Rare Earths has highlighted the potential for its Makuutu Rare Earths project to be a globally significant source of heavy and critical rare earths after upgrading resources by 53 per cent.
Recent infill and resource extension drilling has allowed the company to increase resources at the project to 78.6 million tonnes (Mt) grading 840 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides (TREO), or 66,000 contained tonnes of TREO.
Indicated resources have sufficient information on geology and grade continuity to support mine planning.
Just as importantly for the company, the high proportions of heavy rare earth oxides (HREO) and critical rare earth oxides (CREO) at 25 per cent and 37 per cent respectively confirms that Makuutu has the potential to offset diminishing Chinese reserves of the same material.
There is also considerable potential for further resource growth as the upgrade only takes into account core drilling undertaken within the Makuutu Central Zone, which covers less than 20 per cent of the prospective area covered by the exploration target, which extends across a 26 kilometre mineralisation corridor.
“This outstanding result is based on a combination of in-fill and extension drilling, as well as
advances the team has made in metallurgical optimisation and preliminary study activities,” chairman Tony Rovira said.
“The company aims to further substantively increase the mineral resource estimate with further drilling that is scheduled to recommence in July, and considering the circa 900 metres of core drilling undertaken to date, the potential expansion of mineral resource size and confidence category are substantive.”
He added that Ionic was encouraged by the resource grade staying at the upper end of expectations defined in the exploration target while the reduction of the resource cut-off grade from 500ppm TREO less cerium (TREO-Ce) to 300ppm TREO-Ce has been validated as consistent with peer ionic adsorption rare earth projects.
The latter reinforces the company’s belief that the project has the potential to be a low-cost rare earths producer.
Metallurgical test work has already confirmed that rare earth recovery of up to 75 per cent TREE-Ce can be achieved using a relatively simple method while recent optimisation work has increased rare earths element recovery in some lower recovery areas from less than 10 per cent TREO-Ce by seven fold.
The project is also located close to well maintained and available local infrastructure, including cheap hydroelectric power.