ASX-listed rare earth mineral explorer Ionic Rare Earths reports that recent results of a Phase 3 rotary air blast (RAB) exploration drill programme at its 51%-owned Makuutu rare earths project, in Uganda, provide significant upside for additional resource expansion at the project.
The explorer suggests that the results from the project, to date, point to Makuutu having the potential to become one of the largest ionic adsorption clay (IAC) deposits outside of southern China.
The Phase 3 RAB drill programme consisted of 67 drill holes for 1 206 m and comprised reconnaissance exploration drilling only.
Results from the Phase 3 RAB drilling indicate clay and saprolite mineralisation intersections above the cut-off grade of 200 parts per million (ppm) of total rare earth oxide less cerium oxide (TREO-CeO2), consistent with the current mineral resource estimate (MRE) cut-off, have been achieved in 10 of the 11 holes.
The most notable intersections are in hole RRMRB062, which found 12 m of total rare earth oxides (TREO) at a grade of 675 ppm from a depth of 4 m.
Other drill holes found 10 m of TREO at 698 ppm from 6 m, 8 m at 512 ppm from 4 m, and 10 m at 678 ppm from 2 m.
Ionic MD Tim Harrison says these results are “very promising”, indicating the potential to further expand the rare earth-bearing clay mineralisation at Makuutu.
These assay results are from the remaining 11 drill holes of the 67 RAB drill holes from the programme that was completed during April.
Of major interest to Ionic is the assay results and thick clay interval of drill hole RRMRB063, which is more than 2 km north and west of the basin margin.
Given the significance of these results, Ionic’s 51%-owned subsidiary Rwenzori Rare Metals has applied for a 55.8 km2 exploration licence to the north of the existing licences.
Ionic is also progressing with a selection of samples from these RAB holes through salt desorption testwork to confirm the proportion of ionic adsorbed rare earth content prior to confirming a plan for further drilling these targets.
“We have moved swiftly to apply for the additional tenement and while we await the outcome of the application, we will review all of the targets and refine a longer-term plan for evaluating the growing list of newly identified resource extension potential at Makuutu,” he says.
At present, Harrison says Ionic’s focus is on the Phase 4 drilling programme to get the infill core drilling completed and the mineral resource estimate updated to support the feasibility study.
“We will now complete some additional work to evaluate the growing list of extensional targets at Makuutu and plan for a larger exploration programme to be initiated in due course.”