Ionic's Uganda project proves profitable

20th March 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


Font size: - +

PERTH ( – The Stage 1 development of the Makuutu rare earths project, in Uganda, will require a capital investment of $120.8-million to support the five-million-tonne-a-year project, which will deliver 40 090 t of rare earth oxide equivalent product.

ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths on Monday told shareholders that the Stage 1 definitive feasibility study (DFS) had anticipated a rare earth oxide production of 1 300 t/y over the first ten years, averaging 1 160 t/y over an anticipated 35-year mine life.

The DFS estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of A$2.29-billion, post-tax free cash flow of some A$1.46-billion, net present value of A$580-million and an internal rate of return of 32.7%.

The project’s all-in sustaining costs have been estimated at $12.40/t.

“The outcome of this study, which focuses solely on the central Makuutu zone, provides the required inputs for Rwenzori Rare Metals to now finalise the mining licence application (MLA) for RL 1693,” said Ionic MD Tim Harrison.

“These Stage 1 results support what we think is a unique, geopolitically strategic asset to supply magnet and heavy rare earths into western supply chains. Evidence currently shows that countries are motivated to secure sustainable, traceable supplies of these critical raw materials to support their domestic manufacturing ambitions and to support both the energy transition, and increasingly, military and defence requirements to provide sovereign capability and global security.

“Furthermore, this Stage 1 study provides a path to production at Makuutu, which has the potential for significant growth into the future through the conversion of the other tenements at Makuutu towards additional MLAs over the coming decade. The intent is to significantly increase production from the Stage 1 initial focus at Makuutu, and expand into the forecast increase in demand that will far exceed supply for the most readily sought-after rare earths, being dysprosium and terbium. These rare earths are critical for the production of the magnets required to drive electric vehicles, offshore wind turbines and support a number of specialised defence applications.

“Makuutu is now advancing towards a final investment decision with the capability to provide more heavy rare earths per annum from our initial Stage 1 project than existing western light rare earth hard rock mines in production today,” said Harrison.

“The next phase of work at Makuutu is to build the demonstration plant, to further drive value by proving the potential to achieve high desorption heap stack heights to improve capital efficiency, with a view to further increasing production capacity, whilst optimising desorption conditions to explore improved extractions and minimising the dissolution of impurities, to further optimise economics.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


The content you are trying to access is only available to subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, you can Login Here.

If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe now, by selecting one of the below options.

For more information or assistance, please contact us at

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?