Mineral sands developer Base Resources is to finally embark on titanium extraction at its Kwale project, in Kenya, following the completion of the operation’s processing plant.
After close to two decades of false starts, the company has announced that production will start this month, with the first shipment to be dispatched before the end of the year.
“We are currently undertaking the testing of the processing plant and plan to start extraction in early October,” says Base Resources external affairs and development GM Joe Schwarz.
Construction of other infrastructures to facilitate the transportation of the mineral sands from the site, about 50 km from the Likoni Port facility, has been completed.
Base Titanium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian-listed firm Base Resources, has invested over $150-million in the project.
The firm intends to produce 330 000 t/y of ilmenite, 80 000 t/y of rutile and 30 000 t/y of zircon over a period of 13 years.
The Kenya government is expected to rake in $300-million in taxes and royalty payments over the life of the mine, and will also reap considerable indirect taxation benefits.
Base Resources, which acquired the project from Tiomin Resources, of Canada, has already secured markets for the minerals in the US, Japan, Saudi Arabia and parts of Europe.
The company has received a five-year commitment from an American company for the purchase of all the rutile to be extracted, while negotiations for supply agreements for the ilmenite and zircon extracts are under way.
The project’s coming on stream will enhance Kenya’s mining profile. It is Kenya’s first large-scale mine. The project has been nominated by Vision 2030, Kenya’s development blueprint, as a flagship project.
The Kwale deposit was discovered by Tiomin Resources in the mid-1990s. The controversies have ranged from land ownership, compensation for affected communities and the environmental-impact assessment to a lack of funds.