IonicRE appoints COO to help deliver the Makuutu project

13th June 2023 By: Creamer Media Reporter

IonicRE appoints COO to help deliver the Makuutu project

Mineral exploration company Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) has appointed experienced mining executive Dr Tommie van der Walt as COO.

“This significant addition to our executive team demonstrates our focus on the delivery of the Makuutu heavy rare earths project, in Uganda. Van der Walt is key to us harnessing our technology to accelerate our mining, refining and recycling of magnets and heavy rare earths, which are critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing and defence,” MD Tim Harrison says.

ASX-listed IonicRE's flagship project comprises clay-hosted deposits, which the company says are the lowest-cost sources of critical and heavy rare earths in the world, and the only economical source of heavy rare earth oxides.

Exploration completed at Makuutu has confirmed near-surface, high-grade mineralisation, providing a low-cost mining pathway for IonicRE.

Before joining IonicRE, Van der Walt was GM of African projects and studies with specialist resources private equity group EMR Capital, where he was leading the Lubambe copper project, in Zambia.

Prior to that, he was Newmont Corporation regional project director for Africa where he delivered the $2-billion Ahafo megaproject in Ghana.

He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pretoria, a Master’s degree in Business Management from the University of Cape Town and a PhD in Business Administration from the Potchefstroom Business School, University of North West, South Africa. He has over 20 years’ experience in mining industry leadership and delivering large-scale projects in Africa.

Van der Walt will oversee all aspects of IonicRE’s day-to-day Makuutu heavy rare earths project, which will include further growth strategies for the mine.

“[He] has a proven record in mining project development and has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and a deep understanding of project delivery in Africa. His appointment reflects our commitment to delivering one of the most strategic magnet and heavy rare eartsh projects outside of China, with our product destined to supply critical European, north Asia and US supply chains.”

"Van der Walt is the ideal executive to join the company now, as we await the mining licence award at Makuutu in the very near future,” Harrison comments.

He adds that IonicRE wants to accelerate its mining, refining and recycling to align with global policy priorities and offtaker objectives.