Oro Verde Limited (ASX: OVL) has approved the immediate start of a Scoping Study for the Makuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda.
The decision follows the recent release of results from initial metallurgical test work that achieved excellent recoveries, particularly for the high-value Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE).
The Scoping Study will be driven by the company’s recently appointed Project Manager, Tim Harrison, who brings 20 years’ experience in metallurgy and project development.
Work will commence immediately on multiple workstreams, including an extensive drilling programme and advanced metallurgical test work, with all results feeding into the Scoping Study which the company aims to deliver in the second half of 2020.
This significant milestone, and the associated expenditure, will result in Oro Verde’s interest in the project increasing to 51%
To recognise the enormous opportunity presented by the Makuutu Rare Earths Project, the Board has proposed to re-name the company to Ionic Rare Earths Limited.
Oro Verde’s Technical Director, Dr Marc Steffens, said the name captures one of the key traits of Makuutu, being that the ionic clay-type geology is similar to the major rare earth projects in southern China which produce the majority of the world’s supply of rare earths at a low cost.
Dr Steffens said clay-type rare earth projects can typically be easily mined and simply processed using standard static leaching, as compared to hard-rock deposits that involve drill and blast mining, and often require complex and high CAPEX and OPEX processing plants.
“This is a significant milestone to have reached just seven months since acquiring our initial interest in Makuutu,” Dr Steffens said,
“Everything we have seen to date gives us confidence that this project has the potential to be a major rare earths development and a key strategic alternative supplier to Chinese sources.
“We understand that clay-hosted deposits are currently the lowest-cost sources of rare earths in the world and our early test work has shown Makuutu can achieve a favourable concentration of high-demand and high-value rare earths using simple low-cost mining techniques and simple static leach processing. Importantly, the delivery of the Scoping Study will enable the company to the meet conditions required to further increase our ownership interest in Makuutu.”
Oro Verde has acquired an initial 20% interest in the project and may acquire up to a further 40% interest via an “earn-in” process through the expenditure of funds, bringing its total potential interest in the project to 60%.