Ionic lands provisional approval for Ugandan mining licence

Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) has been provisionally awarded Uganda’s first large-scale mining licence, paving the way for further supply chain engagement to support a new global supply of magnet rare earths. 

The junior explorer on 2 January announced that it had been provisionally granted the Makuutu Central Zone Large Scale Mining Licence (LML) 00334 over Retention Licence (RL) 1693, pending the receipt of signed documents and gazetting in Uganda. 

The approval comes as Ionic continues to advance the development of its demonstration plant in the country, with the first mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) on track for production before the end of March. 

At the same time, Ionic has reached an agreement with its partner, Rwenzori Rare Metals, to increase its stake in Makuutu to 94%. 

Ionic Managing Director Tim Harrison says the provisional award affirms the Ugandan government’s commitment to the country’s mining industry and the Makuutu project. 

“This is an important step forward for Ionic Rare Earths in mining, refining, and recycling the heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence. 

This reinforces the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earth Project as one of the world’s largest and most advanced development-ready heavy rare earth element assets, and we look forward to progressing the next steps and commissioning our demonstration plant at Makuutu.”

“This is an important step forward for Ionic Rare Earths in mining, refining, and recycling the heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence”

LML 00334 is a stage-one licence and covers roughly 44km-square of Makuutu’s near 300km-square of tenements. Makuutu currently has a mineral resource estimate of 532 million tonnes @ 640 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides with a cut-off grade of 200 ppm TREO minure cerium oxide. 

Ionic Rare Earths says Makuutu remains ‘the world’s most advanced ionic adsorption clay project in development today’. The future rare earths to be produced from the project are not committed to China but are instead available to new supply chains looking to decouple from existing global sources. 

With provisional approval now granted, Ionic says Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, is expected to sign the formal documents before the end of the week. 

As it receives provisional approval for LML 00334, Ionic has also applied for the renewable of Exploration Licences 00147 and 00148, and the company says it expects to receive these ‘shortly’. 

Write to Joshua Smith at Mining.com.au

Images: Ionic Rare Earths
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Written By Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith has years of experience in the media sector, having worked as a markets reporter, features writer, and editor since completing a Communications and Journalism degree and a Creative Writing degree. Josh is an avid board game fan and a self-professed coffee snob.