- Ionic Rare Earths (IXR) moves closer to developing a rare earth separation and refining facility for products from its Mukuutu Project in Uganda
- IXR has approved advancing a formal evaluation of the business case for development, concluding that the facility could be an earnings accretive asset
- A downstream scoping study has begun, with the aim of confirming economics associated with developing a standalone facility
- Company shares have been trading 1.8 per cent higher at 2.9 cents at 1:08pm AEST
Ionic Rare Earths (IXR) is moving forward with plans to develop a rare earth separation and refining facility for products from its Mukuutu Project in Uganda.
IXR has concluded the development of the facility has the potential to be an earnings accretive asset and has therefore approved advancing to a formal evaluation of the business case for development.
The facility is being developed for the downstream processing of mixed rare earth carbonate product to produce refined critical and heavy rare earth oxides (CREO/HREO).
In terms of scale, the facility is likely to process around 4000 tonnes per annum of rare earth oxides (REO) equivalent feed, which reflects the projected production capacity IXR announced in the Makuutu scoping study in April.
The company believes the potential asset would enhance and strengthen the engagement and participation of potential strategic partners, whilst adhering to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards via a secure and traceable supply chain.
While IXR currently owns 51 per cent of the project, it said it will be moving to 60 per cent ownership on completion of a feasibility study before October 2022 and has a pre-emptive right over the remaining stake.
The proposed facility will be wholly owned by the company which is said to enable an increase in pay-ability from the mixed rare earth carbonate basket produced at Makuutu, from 70 per cent to 100 per cent for refined individual REO products.
Moving forward, IXR aims to complete a downstream scoping study by mid-2022, with preliminary metallurgical test-work already underway to support process modelling, which it said will underpin the process design using conventional solvent extraction.
The study will include a location analysis to help refine the list of potential global sites, with the aim of meeting demands of potential strategic partners looking to ensure security of supply long-term.
Commenting on the opportunity, Managing Director Tim Harrison said the company had been busy assessing options and desktop studies to maximise returns from the project, keeping in mind the potential for demand to exceed supply in the future.
“With limited HREO refining capacity forecast to be developed outside China in the near term, the development provides direct exposure to maximising value from product with a CREO/HREO dominant basket with greater future demand forecast and diminishing existing supply in years to come.”
Furthermore, the company said it has received strong interest for development of the mine-to-market source for western end users who are interested in accessing the materials through an alternative, “secure” and traceable supply chain.
Company shares were trading 1.8 per cent higher at 2.9 cents at 1:08pm AEST.