A mining license for the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earth Project in Busoga, Eastern Uganda will be issued soon; over a year since the first application was made.
According to a statement from Australia based Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) – which owns 60 per cent of the project – the company recently received notification that the large-scale Mining License TN03834 for Makuutu has been approved-for-granting over Retention License (RL) 1693, by the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM).
Rwenzori Rare Metals (RRM) which owns the other shares in the Makuutu project has been pursuing the license locally for a while.
The IonicRE statement also notes, “Subsequent to this, the MLA has been signed and gazetted in Uganda paving the way for the formal issuance the of Mining License once the first annual fees have been paid and land access to the RL1693 has been verified by the Ugandan department.”
Surface rights acquisition by a company is important before a mining license is issued in Uganda.
Last month, Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, spoke highly of the project at the Africa Down Under (ADU) mining conference in Perth, Australia.
A clear framework for mineral development in Uganda was created once the updated Mining and Minerals (Licencing) Regulations 2023 were gazzeted in August this year, Before the new Mining and Minerals Act 2022 and regulations were passed, licensing had been put on hold.
“Licensing is a very critical part of the mining process, since one needs a license to operate. In the past year or so the industry experienced a paralysis because we were not issuing mineral rights. That is why we prioritized licensing regulations so that people can work,” Vincent Kedi, the Assistant Commissioner (License Administration) at the DGSM/Ministry told this website in August.
IonicRE announced a positive feasibility study over RL1693 earlier this year and received approval to build a Demonstration Plant at Makuutu, which it says is progressing well.
Tim Harrison, IonicRE, Managing Director called the latest developments an important milestone for the project.
“We are pleased with the announcement. This now completes all regulatory approvals on the award of the mining license for the Makuutu project. This is a vital step for IonicRE and Rwenzori, and in mining, refining, and recycling heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defense,” he said.
Harrison is positive that the announcement reinforces Makuutu as one of the world’s largest and most advanced development-ready heavy rare earth element assets.
“We look forward to progressing the next steps and commissioning our Demonstration Plant at Makuutu,” he added.