Second rig to accelerate drilling at Ionic’s Makuutu rare earths project
Special Report: Ionic Rare Earths is accelerating exploration at its Makuutu Rare Earths Project with a second drill rig starting work.
The company is carrying out a 3,700m diamond core drilling program that seeks to realise the resource potential of its unique ionic adsorption clay-hosted project, one of the few outside of China.
Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) chief executive officer Tim Harrison says the second rig will significantly accelerate the drill program, which has the potential to substantially increase the project’s resource, which is currently 78.6 million tonnes grading 840 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides (TREO).
Initial drilling as part of this program was carried out on a 100m by 100m spacing to increase confidence of the internal geological continuity of the mineralisation.
Additional drilling is focused on increasing the size of the resource on a 400m by 400m grid and covers an area more than three times larger than the existing resource area.
“We intend to position ourselves to take full advantage of the favourable project attributes and the near-term projected upside in the rare earth element market,” Harrison added.
Makuutu has high proportions of valuable heavy rare earths oxides (25 per cent) and critical rare earth oxides (37 per cent).
Additionally, its unique mineralisation style means that extracting the rare earths is easier and lower cost than for hard rock deposits.
Metallurgical test work has already confirmed that rare earth recovery of up to 75 per cent total rare earth elements less cerium (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 TREE-Ce by seven fold.