Base titanium projects decreased production as effects of moratorium bite

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Base Titanium a mining company operating in Kenya says production in its Kwale mine is likely to drop by 47 % in the financial year starting July.

The firm’s parent company, Base Resources says that the negative projection is as a result of the depletion of the South Dune which the company says will be shut in early 2024.

According to the projections Ilmenite is expected to come in at between 130,000-160,000 tonnes in the 2024 financial year, compared to a projection of 260,000 to 310,000 in the year ending June 2023.

Rutile volumes on the other hand are projected at 35,000 to 41,000 tonnes, down from 62,000 to 73,000 this year, while the mines are expected to yield between 13,000-16,000 tonnes of zircon next year, down from 22,000 to 27,000 tonnes this year.

The heavy mineral (HM) grade of ore mined in this quarter was lower at 3.9% (last quarter: 4.0%) due to lower grades associated with the North Dune.  As a result of the lower tonnage and ore grade mined and limited heavy mineral concentrate stockpiles, production of finished products was approximately 15% lower than the prior quarter.

“Mining of the Bumamani Project, which extends Kwale Operations mine life to late 2024, commenced on the North Dune in February.” The company said recently in a statement.

The subsets of the North Dune forming part of the Bumamani Project will be mined concurrently with the South Dune to maximise mining rates and better manage tailings.

“The remaining sections of the South Dune and the areas of the North Dune and Bumamani ore bodies proposed to be mined, are estimated to have lower heavy mineral grades than the grades historically mined at Kwale Operations,”Base Resources notes.

Application for licensing for Ramisi area in Msambweni, Kuranzi area near the Kwale-Taita Taveta Counties border and Lamu, are still pending at the ministry of mining, delaying the company’s investment decision.

According to Base Titanium, lifting the moratorium is the only way forward for the company to secure prospecting and mining licenses to extend its operations in Kenya.

The freeze was instituted in November 2019 to pave way for the mapping of the country’s minerals.

Kenya has not renewed existing licenses since 2015 when at least 65 companies had their permits revoked.

The moratorium was intended to safeguard Kenya’ national interests by developing the right data and eliminate speculation on the availability of substantial mineral deposits.

Reduced titanium exports will create a huge gap in the mining sector earnings, noting Base accounts for 88.7 per cent of total sector revenue, according to the ministry data.

Government revenues from Base Titanium are estimated at a total Sh23 billion over the current mine life, with Sh3.7 billion being spent annually on purchases from Kenyan businesses by the company, which has employed over 1,000 people.

Base Titanium commenced mining titanium ores in the country in 2013, with the first shipment in February 2014.

The value of titanium ore minerals (Ilmenite, Rutile and Zircon) increased from Sh25.6 billion in 2021, to Sh28.3 billion in 2022, as Australian company-Base Titanium moved to the last site of the licensed mining area.

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