Titanium and zircon miner Kenmare Resources’ heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) production decreased by 15% year-on-year to 258 000 t for the third quarter ended September 30.
Kenmare operates the Moma titanium minerals mine in northern Mozambique.
The lower volumes are in line with expectations and primarily the result of wet concentrator plant (WCP) B temporarily ceasing production from late August onwards.
Kenmare MD Michael Carvill says that, following the safe relocation of WCP B to the Pilivili ore zone in late September, project execution continues to progress well.
“We now expect to begin production at Pilivili in the coming days, ahead of our target of the middle of the quarter. Downtime for the move is estimated at less than eight weeks, which is a significant achievement by our team,” he adds.
Meanwhile, production of all finished products decreased during the quarter, as a result of an 18% year-on-year decrease in HMC consumption offset by HMC being produced at a lower heavy mineral grade, resulting in higher miner recoveries during a period of lower HMC production.
Ilmenite production decreased by 27% year-on-year to 167 900 t, while primary zircon production decreased by 16% year-on-year to 10 900 t and rutile production by 24% year-on-year to 1 600 t.
Concentrates production also decreased by 16% year-on-year to 9 000 t.
Kenmare’s total shipments of finished products of 118 000 t were 39% lower year-on-year as a result of improvement works on a transhipment vessel and continuing poor sea conditions.
Consequently, Carvill says, the fourth quarter is expected to be Kenmare’s strongest quarter of the year in terms of production, with WCP B mining high-grade ore.
This will take the company “an important step closer to our goal of producing 1.2-million tonnes a year of ilmenite on a sustainable basis”.
Kenmare has been progressing three development projects that, together, have the objective of increasing ilmenite production to 1.2-million tonnes (plus co-products) a year on a sustainable basis.
The third of these projects is the relocation of WCP B and its dredge. WCP B and its dredge were relocated 23 km from their former mining area at Namalope to a new high-grade ore zone called Pilivili.
Following the move, WCP B and its dredge were positioned onto plinths. The establishment of associated infrastructure is under way and the plant is being prepared to float into the starter pond.
The dredge and plant will then be connected to walkways and feedlines and commissioning of critical equipment at the infrastructure terrace will commence. Kenmare expects to produce first HMC from Pilivili and to begin commissioning of WCP B in the coming days.
Kenmare has the majority of its ilmenite sales contracted for the remainder of this year and the outlook for 2021 is “robust, supported by strong Chinese demand and a recovering pigment market”, the company reports.