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Ionic Rare Earths

First Rare Earth Production from Makuutu Demonstration Plant on Track for Q1 2024

Ionic Rare Earths Limited (“IonicRE” or “The Company”) (ASX: IXR) is pleased to advise that excellent progress continues to be made in the construction of the technical facility and Demonstration Plant at the Makuutu Rare Earths Project (“Makuutu”) in Uganda, through our local Ugandan operating entity Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited (“RRM”).

  • Construction at the Makuutu Demonstration Plant continues to progress well with first Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) on track to be produced early in Q1 2024;
  • Technical facility shed erected, and internals now being constructed to house laboratory and offices;
  • Grade control drilling for initial trial mine test pit progressing and expected to be completed this month;
  • Makuutu will soon be producing MREC Product to send to potential customers and offtake parties for testing, where third party interest in partnering with the Company remains very strong;
  • The provision of MREC product from Makuutu will be a key milestone in the development of the Project with the Mining Licence expected to be granted shortly; and
  • Makuutu’s basket contains 71% high value magnet and heavy rare earths content and is one of the most advanced heavy rare earth projects globally available as a source for new supply chains emerging across Europe, the US, and Asia.

The Company expects that it will produce its first mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) from the Makuutu Demonstration Plant early in Q1 2024, which will be a major milestone in the development of the Project. This product will be able to be sent to potential customers and off takers who have showed interest in partnering with the Company to secure magnet and heavy rare earth product from the Project once it becomes an operational mine. The Company expects the near-term award of the mining licence for Makuutu, as announced to the market on 20 October 2023.

The Makuutu Demonstration Plant technical facility will aim to further optimise metallurgical test work outputs and provide technical validation for the detailed review of the Stage One DFS being undertaken by DRA Global. Process commissioning is expected to start later this year once construction has been completed and equipment, 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 2023.

Figure 1: Makuutu Stage 1 Demonstration Plant.

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

IonicRE’s Managing Director Mr Tim Harrison said the progress at Makuutu, having recently visited site, has been pleasing with the growing momentum.

“The progress allows IonicRE and RRM to harness our processing innovations to accelerate and validate mine development with a clear plan to production and profitability,” Harrison said.

“This Demonstration Plant at Makuutu is a key milestone for the supply chain engagement with product to be produced here likely to be sent to potential off-take 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 (HREO) supply,” he said.

“Our focus on the delivery of the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project in Uganda positions us 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.”

The Company 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 (ASX: 19 September 2023).

Click here for the full ASX Release

This article includes content from Ionic Rare Earths, licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here .


Ionic Rare Earths


Rare earth metals are best classified as difficult to discover and extract. In 2019, nearly 60 percent of global annual production (an estimated 132,000 tonnes) came from China, with only 12.2 percent of production coming from the second largest producer, the United States. But, what are rare earth metals ? And why are they more important than ever?

Rare earth metals are classified into two categories: light and heavy. Light rare earth elements (LREEs) are commonly available and include lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, and neodymium. Heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) are more difficult to source (and therefore more expensive), and include samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, yttrium, and scandium.

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