Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) has concluded and commissioned Phase 1 at its technical facility and demonstration plant for the Makuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda.

The project was developed by IonicRE’s local Ugandan operating entity, Rwenzori Rare Metals.

During the construction phase, the company employed locals as casual labourers to spur economic growth and reinforce community bonds.

IonicRE added that the technical equipment at the facility would enhance metallurgical test work and provide additional technical validation for various aspects of the project.

These include grade control, mine design, material handling and metallurgical reconciliation, which are all crucial for supporting project financing and strategic partnerships.

Last month, the technical facility completed front-end processing of materials, encompassing homogenisation, screening and sizing.

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These processes have yielded essential data for the ongoing desorption processes.

The demonstration plant will now have a 24-hour operational schedule, aiming to expedite the development and scale-up of mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) production, anticipated to commence within the next two weeks.

Initial operations at the plant position IonicRE to meet surging demand for REEs, which are vital for a multitude of high-tech industries.

IonicRE managing director Tim Harrison said: “We are delighted to announce the successful completion of our Demonstration Plant Phase 1 commissioning, with expected first MREC production in the next two weeks.

“This represents another step towards development at Makuutu. This work is essential to validating our mine development plan and generating MREC samples for off-take discussions with potential partners over the next few months.

“The progress at Makuutu also reaffirms our position as a strategic resource for near-term development and a secure, long-term supply of magnet and heavy rare earths for new supply chains to emerge.”