Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) Uganda has granted ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths approval for its demonstration plant at the Makuutu rare earths project.
The demonstration plant is expected to validate and optimise results from the Stage 1 definitive feasibility study (DFS), which was released last month, and will be one of the first large-scale ionic adsorption technical facilities outside of China.
“The commencement of the demonstration plant construction at Makuutu, plus approval to proceed granted by the MEMD in Uganda, represents an exciting milestone for the project and the company. The process of de-risking the operation and providing mixed rare earth carbonate samples is essential to the next stage of attracting supply chain partners and moving towards a final investment decision on the positive outcome of the demonstration plant,” said Ionic MD Tim Harrison.
“With the Makuutu Stage 1 DFS now completed, and mining licence application progressing in Uganda, the support from the MEMD to approve progressing to the next step is a positive signal as well as their commitment to sustaining an enabling environment and continued support for the development of the Makuutu rare earths project.
“This project will be Uganda’s flagship, long-life mine. We expect that as we progress through the second quarter, we will continue to receive positive support on the application, and greater definition on the role Makuutu will play in establishing a heavy rare earths supply opportunity to western end-users.”
The Stage 1 development of the Makuutu rare earths project will require a capital investment of $120.8-million to support the five-million-tonne-a-year project, which would deliver 40 090 t of rare earth oxide equivalent product.
The DFS 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.