MINERAL sands developer Base Resources has exported the first shipment from its Kwale project in Kenya, with 25,000t of ilmenite leaving port destined for China.
Base purchased the Kwale mineral sands project – 50km south of Mombasa – in mid-2010 and began production of heavy mineral concentrate in October last year. In that quarter Base produced 42,472 tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate.
The Perth-based company was granted an export permit in early February to ship the ilmenite from its Likoni marine facility to a Chinese customer aboard the MV African Eagle, with the vessel leaving port on February 18.
Likoni marine facility was completed in December and Base has been stockpiling finished ilmenite and rutile product in its 60,000t capacity storage shed ahead of first shipment.
According to a company statement, the ship loader at the facility was able to reach its design capacity of 1000t per hour on its first use.
“Regular shipments of both ilmenite and rutile will now commence with shipments of each product scheduled for March,” the statement said. Base also announced the start of zircon production at Kwale, with wet feed taken through the company’s
mineral separation plant’s zircon circuit to produce specification product.
The company said processing rates would be ramped up and zircon inventories built up before sales of the mineral began in March.
At the end of the 2013 December quarter Base held cash and cash equivalents of $33.3 million, with a debt drawn of US$190 million.