Rare earths: Ionic on course to deliver Makuutu resource upgrade
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Ionic is likely to increase the confidence of its Makuutu resource after all holes from the fifth tranche of Phase 4 drilling intersected rare earths above the cut-off grade.
Notable near-surface, thick high-grade ionic adsorption clay (IAC) results from the 110 holes include 7.4m at 1,829 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 3.2m, 11.4m at 1,567ppm TREO and 10.7m at 1,489ppm TREO from 3m.
Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) says the continuation of thick high-grade IAC returns out of Uganda further highlights the extraordinary consistency to the mineralisation at the Makuutu project.
“These latest tranche 5 drill assays align with both expectation and the prior 4 tranches reported to date from the Phase 4 drill program at Makuutu. The results once again clearly show a very thick rare earths bearing clay system, under minimal cover,” managing director Tim Harrison said.
“With this batch, the Phase 4 drilling assay data has nearly all been delivered, and the resource geologist engaged.
“The Makuutu resource remains on course for a significant upgrade in confidence in the near term, with the MRE update advancing Makuutu another step closer to our goal of submitting a mining licence application later in 2022.”
Assays are pending for the last remaining 66 holes and planning for the resource update has started with completion expected in the second quarter of 2022.
The 110 holes in tranche five were drilled to infill a portion of the Makuutu Central Zone (MCZ) indicated resource to further increase grade estimation confidence in that area, infill resource area I, and infill exploration targets C and E to provide increased drill density for resource classification.
Drilling at the MCZ is consistent with expectations giving further confidence in geology and grade continuity for the pending 2022 resource upgrade.
Meanwhile, the company noted that while Area I is generally a lower-grade area of the resource, it shows consistent clay thickness and grade distribution.
Ionic added that Phase 4 drilling at exploration targets C and E was aimed at achieving grade continuity to allow for resources to be estimated.
It noted that while drilling at Target C returned some zones of sand disruption the clay zones are generally thick and show continuity between holes while Target E drilling returned some consistent clay horizons hosting generally lower-grade rare earths though most holes are disrupted by barren sand units to some extent.
Makuutu – one of the few ionic adsorption clay rare earths deposits outside China – currently hosts a resource of 315Mt at 650ppm TREO.
The IAC deposits of China and Myanmar, are known to be some of the lowest cost sources of heavy rare earths, and produce over 95% of the worlds current supply.
This article was developed in collaboration with Ionic Rare Earths, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.