Australian Securities Exchange-listed mineral explorer Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) has secured a provisional licence for the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earths Project in Uganda.

The Stage 1 Large Scale Mining Licence ((LML00334) over Retention Licence (RL) 1693 has been granted by the DGSM.

It encompasses approximately 44km² of the project’s near 300km² of tenements at Makuutu.

It is said to be the first large-scale mining licence awarded under Uganda’s Mining Act 2022.

In this regard, the Ugandan Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu will sign the documents this week.

The Makuutu Mineral Resource Estimate currently stands at 532 million tonnes (mt) at 640 parts per million (ppm) Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO), with a cut-off grade of 200ppm TREO minus Cerium Oxide (CeO₂).

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The licence award follows the gazetting of the updated Mining and Minerals (Licensing) Regulations 2023, which offer a clear framework for mineral development in Uganda.

IonicRE secured land access agreements for more than 95% of the LML00334 area and has received strong support from local stakeholders and landowners.

Additionally, IonicRE is awaiting the renewal of Exploration Licences 00147 and 00148. Exploration Licence 00147 is said to have shown promising results, with rare earth elements identified in 66 of 70 RAB holes drilled.

The company expects to update its Mineral Resource Estimate and Exploration Targets in the first quarter of 2024 to reflect the Phase 5 drill programme results.

The Makuutu Rare Earths Project, 60% owned by IonicRE and moving to 94% ownership in the first quarter of 2024, benefits from existing infrastructure and is poised to become a sustainable supplier of high-value magnet and heavy rare earth oxides.

The positive stage 1 Definitive Feasibility Study announced in March 2023 outlined a 35-year project lifespan and the potential for significant scale-up through additional tenements.