Australian mining company Ionic Rare Earths (IonicRE), through Rwenzori Rare Metals, has secured the Mining License approval for the Makuutu heavy rare earth project in Uganda.

Uganda’s Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) has approved the granting of the Mining License TN03834, which covers Retention Licence (RL) 1693 in the Makuutu project.

Makuutu is the most advanced Ionic Adsorption Clay (IAC) project in development, with its product not committed to China, but provides rare earths to new supply chains.

According to IonicRE’s mining licence application (MLA), the Stage 1 Mining Licence (TN03834) covers around 44km2 of the Makuutu project’s nearly 300km2 tenements.

In March 2023, the company announced a positive Feasibility Study over RL1693 and received approval to build a demonstration plant at Makuutu.

Ionic Rare Earths managing director Tim Harrison said: “The notice received on the approval to grant the mining licence by the DGSM was an important milestone for the Project.

“We are pleased with the announcement today that the DGSM has officially approved for granting the Large-Scale Mining License TN03834 over RL 1693, which now completes all regulatory approvals on the award of the Mining Licence for the Makuutu Heavy Rare Earth Project.”

The approval follows the Ugandan Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, recently showing support for the project.

Subsequently, the MLA has signed and gazetted the updated Mining and Minerals Regulations 2023 in Uganda, to provide a clear framework for mineral development.

It facilitated the formal issuance the of Mining Licence, subject to payment of the first annual fees and verification of the land access to the RL1693 by the Ugandan department.

Uganda’s DGSM has approved the granting after reviewing the gazetting and the submitted documentation, said the Australian mineral exploration company.

Harrison added: “This is a vital step for Ionic Rare Earths and Rwenzori, and in mining, refining, and recycling heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence.

“This announcement reinforces the Makuutu Project as one of the world’s largest and most advanced development-ready heavy rare earth element assets, and we look forward to progressing the next steps and commissioning our Demonstration Plant at Makuutu.”