Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX: IXR) has reported a substantial 210% increase to the Mineral Resource Estimate at its 51% owned Makuutu Rare Earths Project located 120 km east of Kampala in Uganda.
The company said that the Mineral Resource increased three-fold at a cut-off grade of 200 parts per million Total Rare Earth Oxide minus CeO2, to 315 Million tonnes at 650 parts per million Total Rare Earth Oxide.
IXR said that Heavy Rare Earth Oxides (26%) and Critical Rare Earth Oxides (35%) accounted for a substantial component of the Resource mineralisation.
The company said that prospective mineralisation on EL00147 would be tested with a drilling program commencing this month over the highly prospective radiometric anomaly.
IXR said that the scoping Study is now being revised to reflect the large-scale and high-margin potential of Makuutu Rare Earths Project.
210% increase in Makuutu MRE
The company had recently updated the Makuutu Mineral Resource Estimate and reported a substantial 210% increase to the Mineral Resource Estimate estimated at 315 Million tonnes at 650 ppm Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) with a cut-off grade of 200 parts per million (ppm) TREO minus CeO2.
Ionic said that the updated MRE places Makuutu amongst the world’s largest ionic adsorption clay (IAC) deposits, and as such, a globally strategic resource for low-cost, high-margin, and long-term security of critical and heavy rare earth (HREO) supply.
Inputs for updated MRE
The company said that the updated MRE was based on the following key inputs: 279 drill holes for 4,754 metres of drilled between October 2019 and October 2020; 54 infill drill holes completed on a 200 metre grid on the Makuutu Central area increasing resource confidence to Indicated status in that area; 8 infill drill holes on a 100 metre grid on the Makuutu Central area evaluating short range variability in head grade and extraction; 487 insitu dry bulk density measurements from drill core samples; and marginal cut-off grade parameters based on Makuutu Rare Earth Element extraction metallurgical test results, project-based cost estimates and REO product pricing reflecting current and forecast REO prices.
Globally strategic resource
IXR said that it continues to advance discussions with global parties regarding the Makuutu Rare Earths Project, given its strategic importance as a potential long-life, low-cost and high-margin source of critical and heavy rare earths.
The company said that it will now progress key activities at Makuutu to advance the Project to completion of the BFS by October 2022.
Further work would include commencing the Phase 2 metallurgical variability testwork across Makuutu to determine overall step change in metallurgical extractions with the optimised conditions; initiating the next stage of site-based activities including geotechnical and sterilisation programs for project development; initiating the next stage of Environmental and Social Impact Study (ESIA) at the Makuutu, which includes an enhanced community and stakeholder engagement; and additional evaluation studies across the Projects which has the potential to unlock additional value at Makuutu including extraction studies on the hardcap material that has presently been excluded from the reported Mineral Resource.
The company said that a reconnaissance rotary air blast (RAB) drilling program is scheduled to commence in March across the Makuutu Rare Earths Project, including initial drilling on the recently granted untested Exploration License 00147.
IonicRE’s Managing Director, Tim Harrison said: “In just over 18 months, we have been able to advance the highly encouraging Exploration Target to now confirm Makuutu to be one of the largest ionic adsorption clay deposits outside of China, with one of the largest publicly reported TREO mineral resource estimates globally.”
The magnitude of this Mineral Resource will provide a platform for the Company to now look to finalise the Makuutu Scoping Study, which will reflect the significant nature of the resource, underpinning what we anticipate will be a long-term, low-capital and high-margin critical and heavy rare earth producing asset.
“Makuutu has additional areas of mineralisation which have not been classified at this stage. I believe it is reasonable to expect, with a high level of confidence, that additional drill programs have the potential for further increases to the resource. The Company is commencing further targeted drilling this month, and it is expected that, combined with the potential of EL00147, additional material resource increases remain highly probable. Combined, the overall potential for a long-life, low-cost, high-margin critical and heavy rare earth opportunity at Makuutu is high.”
*Image source: Ionic Rare Earths Limited