Makuutu Project Update
Perth, July 28, 2023 AEST (ABN Newswire) - The Board of Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) (IXRRF:OTCMKTS) advises on progress at its 60 per cent owned Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project ("Makuutu" or "the Project") in Uganda.
"The commercialisation of our recycling technology at our Belfast Facility and our focus on the delivery of the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project in Uganda positions us to provide a secure, sustainable, and traceable supply of magnet REOs," Tim Harrison, Managing Director at IonicRE, said.
"We are harnessing our technology to accelerate our mining, refining and recycling of magnets and heavy rare earths that are critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence."
The Company is progressing the development at the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project through local Ugandan operating entity Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited ("RRM").
At the Makuutu Demonstration Plant technical facility, earthworks have been completed, the facility shed fabricated and delivered to site, and the erection of the technical facility has commenced.
Foundation formwork is currently being set out, with concrete footings commencing this weekend and superstructure erection within the next 4 weeks.
The Makuutu Demonstration Plant technical facility will validate metallurgical test work and provide further technical validation basis for grade control, mine design, material handling, metallurgical reconciliation, and construction activity whilst also supporting Project financing and strategic partner activity.
"The progress allows IonicRE and RRM to harness our processing innovations to accelerate and validate mine development with a clear process plan to production and profitability," Harrison said.
"This step will also strengthen talks we have progressed with supply chain partners where further value adding has been identified. It is a globally strategic resource for near-term development and long-term security of magnet and heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) supply," he said.
ON DRILLING AND RESOURCES UPGRADE
"The Phase Five exploration drilling program is on schedule, with 1,663 metres of RAB drilling completed across Exploration Licences (EL) 00147 and 00257 and Retention Licence (RL) 00007."
"Infill core diamond drilling on RL00007 is progressing well, with 29 holes completed, representing 558 metres of the planned 4,380 metres aimed to upgrade the Makuutu Mineral Resource Estimate MRE), with increased classification of Inferred Resources to Indicated Resources, and support the second Mining Licence Application (MLA) located on the Makuutu western zone due to be submitted before the end of November 2024."
ON FURTHER PERMITTING
"RRM's In-Country Manager has received feedback from a Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) Representative last week advising that the Ugandan Authorities would expedite review of outstanding relevant paperwork within days to allow for the gazetting of updated mining regulations."
"Following that, a finalisation of the Mining Licence Application (MLA) fee payment can be lodged and the review and award of the MLA on RL 1693 (TN03834) shortly thereafter."
ON COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Mr Harrison said, "the acquisition of the area for the Makuutu Demonstration Plant had involved significant effort from the community stakeholder team as well as other technical specialists across cultural heritage, biodiversity studies and environmental teams who documented surveys and baseline monitoring points as required by the conditions set out in the Makuutu ESIA Certificate received last year."
"Discussions with key Ugandan Government stakeholders remain very positive, with our growing Ugandan workforce praised by the MEMD Permanent Secretary, along with local government and community dignitaries, for their thorough engagement programs, noting the technical, environmental, and social licence to operate approvals were obtained with little disruption," he said.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON STAGE ONE MINING LICENCE APPLICATION (TN03834)
The Company, through RRM, has been in regular dialogue with representatives of the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) for an update on the MLA and the Ugandan Government's progress with updating mining regulations.
The time and diligence to legislate Uganda's new mining regulations demonstrates that the Government is intent on securing the right balance between growing the economy and ensuring sustainable mining practices and balancing stakeholder interest.
The longer than expected time taken to update the mining regulations has extended timelines for their gazetting and therefore the approval of Makuutu's MLA for RL 1693 (TN03834). Uganda's mining industry is developing and due care is being taken by the authorities to consult widely on the regulations. The MEMD has pledged its commitment to have the Regulations gazetted as soon as appropriate reviews are completed.
The Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project has the Government's full support and is set to become Uganda's flagship mine.
To demonstrate MEMD commitment to fast-track licencing decision making, and to ensure delays in considering the Makuutu mining licence over RL 1693 are minimised, the Department of Geology, Survey and Mines (DGSM) has committed to reviewing the Stage 1 DFS to ensure any areas of clarification can be identified and actioned immediately to support the swift evaluation of the MLA.
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About Ionic Rare Earths Limited
Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) (OTCMKTS:IXRRF) is focused on developing its flagship Makuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda into a significant long life, low-cost, supplier of high-value critical and heavy rare earths.
Makuutu is an advanced-stage, ionic adsorption clay-hosted project highlighted by near-surface mineralisation, significant exploration upside, excellent metallurgical characteristics and access to tier-one infrastructure.
The ionic adsorption clay-hosted geology at Makuutu is similar to major rare earths projects in Southern China, which are responsible for the majority of global supply of low cost heavy and critical rare earths, specifically the high value magnet metals (Dysprosium and Terbium) Heavy Rare Earths (>98% originating from ionic clays). Metallurgical testing at Makuutu has returned excellent recovery rates, which provide multiple avenues for a simple process route.
Makuutu is well-supported by tier-one existing infrastructure which includes access to major highways, roads, power, water and a professional workforce.
Rare Earths will play a critical role in the future of clean energy. Rare Earths are a key ingredient in the permanent magnets found in wind turbines and electric vehicles.
IonicRE is led by an experienced and proven team, who have the capabilities to deliver Makuutu into production and realise value for all stakeholders.