Rare Earth Production from Makuutu on Track for Q1 2024
Perth, Nov 10, 2023 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) (IXRRF:OTCMKTS) is pleased to advise that excellent progress continues to be made in the construction of the technical facility and Demonstration Plant at the Makuutu Rare Earths Project ("Makuutu") in Uganda, through our local Ugandan operating entity Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited ("RRM").
- Construction at the Makuutu Demonstration Plant continues to progress well with first Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) on track to be produced early in Q1 2024;
- Technical facility shed erected, and internals now being constructed to house laboratory and offices;
- Grade control drilling for initial trial mine test pit progressing and expected to be completed this month;
- Makuutu will soon be producing MREC Product to send to potential customers and offtake parties for testing, where third party interest in partnering with the Company remains very strong;
- The provision of MREC product from Makuutu will be a key milestone in the development of the Project with the Mining Licence expected to be granted shortly; and
- Makuutu's basket contains 71% high value magnet and heavy rare earths content and is one of the most advanced heavy rare earth projects globally available as a source for new supply chains emerging across Europe, the US, and Asia.
The Company expects that it will produce its first mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) from the Makuutu Demonstration Plant early in Q1 2024, which will be a major milestone in the development of the Project. This product will be able to be sent to potential customers and off takers who have showed interest in partnering with the Company to secure magnet and heavy rare earth product from the Project once it becomes an operational mine. The Company expects the near-term award of the mining licence for Makuutu, as announced to the market on 20 October 2023.
The Makuutu Demonstration Plant technical facility will aim to further optimise metallurgical test work outputs and provide technical validation for the detailed review of the Stage One DFS being undertaken by DRA Global. Process commissioning is expected to start later this year once construction has been completed and equipment, in transit from Australia, has been delivered and installed at the technical facility. Delivery of test work equipment from Perth, split across two container deliveries is expected to start this month and be completed in December enabling the fit out of the facility and laboratories before the end of 2023.
Grade control drilling on one of two identified test pit locations is progressing well and is expected to be completed this month.
IonicRE's Managing Director Mr Tim Harrison said the progress at Makuutu, having recently visited site, has been pleasing with the growing momentum.
"The progress allows IonicRE and RRM to harness our processing innovations to accelerate and validate mine development with a clear plan to production and profitability," Harrison said.
"This Demonstration Plant at Makuutu is a key milestone for the supply chain engagement with product to be produced here likely to be sent to potential off-take partners in early 2024. Makuutu is a globally strategic resource for near-term development and long-term security of magnet and heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) supply," he said.
"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 rare earth oxides. Along with our Ionic Technologies Belfast recycling facility, Makuutu is key to us harnessing our technology to accelerate mining, refining, and recycling of magnet and heavy rare earths that are critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence."
The Company continues to build its execution and Ugandan Demonstration Plant operations team with several new appointments made, and key input received from newly appointed engineering contractor DRA Global (ASX 19 September 2023).
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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.