Australian resource company Oro Verde (ASX: OVL) has released a maiden mineral resource estimate for an initial drilled portion of the Makuutu rare earth project in the Republic of Uganda.
The portion is believed to contain 47.3 million tonnes at 910 parts per million total rare earth oxides, at a cut-off grade of 500ppm TREO-cerium oxide.
The resource grade is considered to be at the upper end of the exploration target range.
Estimates were also made of the uranium and thorium content, both of which exist in low concentrations averaging 30ppm triuranium octoxide and 30ppm thorium dioxide and were not considered to be at significant levels.
Technical director Dr Marc Steffens said the resource figures point to a larger mineral endowment compared to peer projects.
“This initial estimate covers only a very small portion of Makuutu’s prospective area and there is strong potential to significantly grow future resources,” he said.
“Encouragingly, the resource grade is at the upper end of expectations which is very promising for overall project potential.”
Makuutu Central Zone
The maiden estimate was based on a portion of the project within the Makuutu Central Zone which was subject to less than 700m of core drilling last year.
It covers the clay zone of the regolith-hosted deposit but does not include the hardcap above and the basement sediments below, both of which are also believed to contain rare earth mineralisation.
Additional clay-hosted rare earth mineralisation has been identified on the project licence by further core drilling 12km east of the maiden resource estimate and by historic rotary air blast drilling up to 10km west.
Oro Verde will conduct follow-up drilling this month to extend the resource area and work towards upgrading resource confidence.
It will also seek to provide ore samples from a broader area of the project for metallurgical testwork.
The Makuutu rare earth project comprises three licences over 132 square kilometres and is believed to be potentially one of the largest ionic clay deposits outside of China.
It is wholly-owned by Ugandan company Rwenzori Rare Metals Ltd, in which Oro Verde has a 20% shareholding with an option to earn up to 60% by meeting expenditure commitments.
These include spending $2.58 million on exploration and scoping study expenditure by October this year and funding of Makuutu’s bankable feasibility study.