Makuutu rare earths project, Uganda – update

1st March 2024 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Makuutu rare earths project, Uganda – update

Photo by: Ionic Rare Earths

Name of the Project
Makuutu rare earths project.

Uganda, 120 km east of Kampala.

Project Owner/s
Ugandan company Rwenzori Rare Metals (RRM), which owns 100% of the project. Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) announced an agreement with RRM partners in December 2023 to increase the company’s stake in RMM and the Makuutu project from 60% to 94%. IonicRE is also in discussions with partners on acquiring the remaining 6% ownership.

Project Description
The Stage 1 DFS proposes an openpit mining operation at an annualised mining rate of five-million tonnes a year of mineralisation for total rare-earth oxide equivalent production of 40 090 t.

The maiden ore reserve for Stage 1 over retention licence 1693 is 172.9-million tonnes grading 848 parts per million (ppm) total rare-earth oxide (TREO) for 146 654 t of contained TREO.

Stage 1 envisages production of 1 300 t/y of rare earths in the first ten years, averaging 1 156 t/y over the estimated 35-year mine life.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $406-million and internal rate of return of 32.7%, with a payback of about three years.

Capital Expenditure
The project has an initial capital expenditure of $120.8-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The project is aiming for a final investment decision later this year, with first product to customers in early 2026.

Latest Developments
IonicRE has identified 69 holes with clay-hosted rare earth intersections above the current resource cutoff across three licences at the Makuutu project.

The 69 confirmed holes formed part of a 76-hole rotary air blast drilling programme as Phase 5 on the 00147 and 00257 exploration licences, as well as the 00007 retention licence. Rotary air blast drilling on the 00257 licence, in particular, has resulted in a 40% increase to the exploration target at Makuutu. In turn, drilling across the 00147 licence has increased confidence in the existing exploration target, with no further changes.

IonicRE has revised the overall Makuutu exploration target upward, to between 285-million and 766-million tonnes grading between 400 ppm and 700 ppm TREOs.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
RRM (installation contract); and DRA Global (DFS review).

Contact Details for Project Information
IonicRE, tel +61 3 9776 3434 or email