Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE), the junior Australian mining firm exploring for rare earths metals at Makuutu in Busoga region, Eastern Uganda, says it remains on course to apply for a mining license in 2022 following more successful drilling results.
In a statement, the company says it completed Tranche 5 of an 8,220 metres Phase 4 drill programme in October last year, which further confirmed Makuutu as a large-scale, ionic adsorption clay-hosted rare earth element (REE) project, with extension potential to the east and northwest.
“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,” Mr. Tim Harrison, IonicRE Managing Director said.
Adding, “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.”
The Tranche 5 submission includes 110 drill holes within the existing inferred and indicated mineral resource estimate (MRE) at the Makuutu Central Zone, resource area one, and also evaluated Exploration Targets C and E that were excluded from the 2021 MRE.
All 110 holes delivered clay and saprolite mineralization intersections above the cut-off grade of 200 ppm Total Rare Earth Oxide less CeO2 (TREO-CeO2) and demonstrated mineralisation consistent with both the initial drilling phases (2019 and H1 2020) and the current MRE.
Notable intervals reported from the Tranche 5 assay results include 7.4 m grading 1,829 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 3.2 m; 11.4 m grading 1 567 ppm TREO from 3.3 m and 10.7 m grading 1,489 ppm TREO from 3 m.
The Makuutu Rare Earths Project is well supported by existing infrastructure and is one of a few confirmed ionic adsorption clay (IAC) deposits identified globally, outside of China.
Rare earths metals are used in the manufacturing of electric batteries and are used in smart phones too. China accounts for the largest share of rare earths in the world, at more than 90 per cent.
Ionic Re owns 51 per cent of the Makuutu project, although that figure will go up to 60 per cent by October 2022 when the company completes the feasibility study. Rwenzori Rare Metals Ltd owns the rest of the shares.