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IonicRE expects first product at Makuutu early next year

10th November 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) expects it will produce its first mixed rare earth carbonate from its new demonstration plant at the Makuutu rare earths project, in Uganda, early in the first quarter of next year, which the company says will be a major milestone in the development of the project.

Ionic has reported good progress in the construction of the technical facility and demonstration plant, which is being carried out through Ionic’s local Ugandan operating entity Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited.

The product produced at the plant will likely be sent to potential customers and offtakers who have showed interest in partnering with the company to secure magnet and heavy rare earths product from the project once it becomes an operational mine.

The company is also expecting the near-term award of the mining licence for Makuutu.

The Makuutu demonstration plant technical facility is aimed at further optimising metallurgical test work outputs and providing technical validation for the detailed review of the Stage 1 definitive feasibility study being undertaken by engineering firm DRA Global.

Process commissioning is expected to start later this year once construction has been completed and equipment, which is in transit from Australia, has been delivered and installed at the technical facility.

Delivery of test work equipment from Perth, split across two container deliveries, is expected to start this month and be completed in December, enabling the fit-out of the facility and laboratories before the end of the year.

IonicRE reports that grade control drilling on one of two identified test pit locations is progressing well and is expected to be completed this month.

“The progress [made at the project] allows IonicRE and RRM to harness our processing innovations to accelerate and validate mine development with a clear plan to production and profitability,” IonicRE MD Tim Harrison says.

He adds that the demonstration plant at Makuutu is a key milestone for the supply chain engagement with product to be produced locally, likely to be sent to potential offtake partners in early 2024.

“Makuutu is a globally strategic resource for near-term development and long-term security of magnet and heavy rare earth oxide supply,” he says.

Harrison adds that the focus on the delivery of the Makuutu heavy rare earths project positions the company to provide a secure, sustainable and traceable supply of magnet rare earth oxides.

“Along with our Ionic Technologies Belfast recycling facility, Makuutu is key to us harnessing our technology to accelerate mining, refining and recycling of magnet and heavy rare earths that are critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence,” he says.

The company says it continues to build its execution and Ugandan demonstration plant operations team with several new appointments made, and key input received from newly appointed engineering contractor DRA Global.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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