Oro Verde (ASX: OVL) has continued to make inroads at its Makuutu rare earth project in Uganda, with testing achieving high metallurgical recoveries using simple extraction methods indicating low operating and capital costs to get the project off the ground.
Extraction methods retrieved up to 75% total rare earth minus cerium, with low waste elements including uranium and thorium – meaning radioactive tailings or concentrates are expected to be immaterial.
Additionally, heavy rare earth element (HREE) recoveries were consistently higher than light rare earth elements (LREE) – with Oro noting typical HREE recoveries were double the average LREE.
“The initial metallurgy program indicates that a simple process route is suitable for treating Makuutu mineralisation,” Oro technical director Dr Marc Steffens said.
He added numerous sizeable mineralised samples achieved metallurgical recoveries that “exceeded” the company’s expectations using low acid.
“We expect that the next phase of project development will further enhance these outcomes.”
According to Dr Steffens, the ore recoveries compare favourably to other ionic clay-hosted rare earth deposits outside of China, including the BioLantanidos project in Chile, which recently collared “substantive investment” for development.
He noted governments worldwide are viewing these deposits as strategic assets to ensure future rare earth supply, with China currently dominating the world’s rare earth production – accounting for more than 70% of global supplies.
Additionally, the Chinese Government has restricted rare earth production from clay deposits within the country to mitigate the environmental impact.
As part of the company’s plan to take advantage of the tight supply situation for rare earth elements and mounting demand by accelerating its efforts at Makuutu.
“This year we will be executing a substantive body of work – under the direction and management of the company’s newly appointed project manager Tim Harrison – to develop the project and ultimately work toward achieving a commercial outcome for the company and its shareholders,” Dr Steffens said.
Oro entered an agreement to acquire Makuutu mid-last year after an extensive hunt for a new asset.
Makuutu comprises three licences covering 132 square kilometres 40km from Uganda’s regional centre Jinja.
Oro’s shares were up 12.5% to $0.009 just after market open.