ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) has achieved a key milestone in Uganda, with the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) having approved the terms of reference for the completion of an environmental- and social-impact assessment (Esia) for its 51%-owned Makuutu rare earths project.
The company will move to 60% ownership of Makuutu on the completion of a bankable feasibility study that is due for completion before the end of October 2022.
This approval enables the company to start the Esia and key programmes have now been awarded to Nema-accredited environmental-impact assessor (EIA) practitioners and consultants located within Uganda and the project area.
JBN Consults and Planners has been contracted to complete the Esia. Based in Kampala, JBN is a private consulting firm that provides integrated environmental, engineering and development consulting services in the Great Lakes Region of Uganda.
JBN, having substantial local experience in the immediate project area, assisted the company with the submission of the terms of reference report to Nema which has confirmed the project status and alignment, IonicRE says.
Atacama Consulting has also been engaged to develop a stakeholder engagement plan and to complete baseline socioeconomic studies for the development of Makuutu. Atacama is also based in Kampala, with expertise in providing similar services on major long-term projects in Uganda that will be key for Uganda’s socioeconomic development.
IonicRE says it will ensure that the project meets the world standard environmental and social standards and has commissioned an Equator Principles (EPs) audit of the Esia work programme to ensure conformance.
The EPs is a risk management framework, adopted by financial institutions, for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects and is primarily intended to provide a minimum standard for due diligence and monitoring to support responsible risk decision-making.
The Esia is expected to be formally submitted to Nema in early 2022 with an outcome expected by the end of the third quarter of 2022.