ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths has announced the start of the next phase of drilling at its 51%-owned Makuutu rare earths project, in Uganda.
The drilling programme will provide initial reconnaissance drilling with a view to providing indicative potential of resource extension.
The rotary air blast drilling programme is set to start across all five tenements at Makuutu.
It will evaluate the highly prospective exploration licence (EL) 00147 for potential additional resource extension.
Moreover, the drilling will test the extension of ionic adsorption clay- (IAC-) hosted rare earth element (REE) mineralisation within the basin margin between radiometric anomalies and beyond margin boundary.
This phase of drilling has been planned as a follow-on to the company’s threefold increase of the mineral resource estimate at Makuutu, which has been estimated at 315-million tonnes at 650 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxide (TREO) with a cut-off grade of 200 ppm TREO minus cerium oxide.
Makuutu ranks among the world’s largest IAC deposits, and as such, a globally strategic resource for low-cost, high-margin and long-term security of critical and heavy rare earth oxides (HREO) supply, the company states.
“The company is excited to resume drilling at our flagship Makuutu rare earths project. Key to this is EL00147. We identified the new eastern target radiometric anomaly in August last year, and having been granted EL00147 and EL00148 in December, we expect a similar outcome to the 2020 Phase 2 drill programme, which confirmed the radiometric anomaly targeting as being a very good proxy for REE ionic adsorption clay mineralisation.
“Furthermore, the HREO-dominant nature of the clay mineralisation in EL1766 immediately adjacent to the EL00147 could result in a very substantial addition at Makuutu,” says Ionic MD Tim Harrison.
Moreover, he notes that the company has been waiting for an opportunity to assess the areas adjoining the individual radiometric anomalies within the basin margins to test for further continuity of ionic adsorption clay mineralisation.
“We expect over the course of the next two to three months we will start to get a more accurate idea on the total potential deposit magnitude at Makuutu, which will be critical as we fast-track Makuutu to production,” Harrison notes.