Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE) has partnered with Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco) to advance the development of the Makuutu rare earths project in Uganda.

In this regard, a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between IonicRE and Chinalco subsidiary China Rare Metals and Rare Earth (Jiangsu).

Under the MoU, the two parties will work together to accelerate the development and production of the Makuutu project.

The MoU includes the potential for an offtake agreement and funding for the project.

IonicRE managing director Tim Harrison said: “From the outset of our discussions, it was clear that there existed a key alignment between IonicRE and Chinalco on the development of Makuutu.

“We greatly welcome their expertise in de-risking the technical development and engineering, maximising the strategic value of Makuutu and its importance in the longer-term global rare earths supply chain.

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“We see Makuutu rapidly growing into a very large, long life producer of critical and heavy rare earths. Partnering with Chinalco potentially fast tracks the development process for Makuutu and will greatly assist in value creation for IonicRE.”

Over the past 12 months, Chinalco completed a due diligence review of the project.

At the Makuutu project, resource has been identified over a 20km length with potential for a long-life, low-cost capital source of critical and heavy rare earths.

IonicRE said that the Makuutu project is capable of producing high margin product and will have an operational life of more than 30 years.