CAPITAL MARKETS

Ionic raises for Makuutu advancement

IONIC Rare Earths, which aims to be a pioneer of an African rare earths business with its 51%-owned Makuutu ionic clay deposit in Uganda, has secured the funds required to complete its resource upgrade and its feasibility studies.

Makuutu is shaping up as a world-class project

Makuutu is shaping up as a world-class project

The junior successfully raised A$30 million at 7.4c with firm commitments from key existing shareholders and new global institutional investors from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
 
The raising, at a 10% discount to recent trading, was managed by Sprott Capital Partners and Canaccord Genuity.
 
The company needs about $11 million to get Makuutu to a final investment decision. Of that, $7 million will go towards a feasibility study into a rare earths refinery and the Makuutu demonstration plant, while $9 million will support the company's newly-acquired Seren Technology rare earth separation, refining and magnet recycling businesses, including construction of a demonstration plant.
 
It started the year with $7 million.
 
Ionic managing director Tim Harrison said funding support reflected the company's "unique position" as a potential magnet and heavy rare earth developer, with the potential to become an end-to-end vertically-integrated supplier.
 
The company recently accelerated its development timeframes given rising demand for rare earths, with FID targeted early next year.
 
"We are seeing a significant step change in interest for the magnet rare earth and heavy rare earth content from Makuutu," he said.
 
"With a greater end user understanding on supply risk for key magnet rare earths, we believe that the company's integrated business will become an increasingly important strategic asset as demand for a secure, sustainable supply of magnet and heavy rare earths increases and geopolitical tensions remain high."
 
The company describes Makuutu as one of the world's biggest ionic adsorption clay deposits, and aims to be in operation in 2024.
 
A scoping study last year outlined pre-production capex of US$89 million for the first module, a post-tax net present value of $321 million, and an internal rate of return of 38%.
 
The feasibility study is planned for October, following the resource update, which will be informed by the company's just-concluded fourth drilling program that continued to intersect rare earths at good grades.
 
Resources are currently 315 million tonnes at 650 parts per million total rare earth oxides.
 
The DFS will allow Ionic to move to 60% ownership, and it has a pre-emptive right on the remaining 40%.
 
Ionic shares have traded between A2.1c and 9.8c over the past year, and eased 5% to 7.8c this morning.
 
At current levels, the company was worth about $280 million.

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