JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – LSE-listed mineral sands miner Kenmare Resources has reported a record yearly production of ilmenite, rutile and zircon – achieving production guidance for all products.
The company said in a statement on Thursday that it mined more than 33-million tonnes of ore in 2017, up 12% from the previous year, at an average grade of 4.46%. The company, however, produced 1.32-million tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC), a 6% decrease compared with the previous year.
"Both production and shipments of all products were at record levels in 2017. Production in 2018 is expected to moderate slightly, mainly owing to lower opening stockpiles, though ilmenite shipment volumes are expected to be maintained as finished goods inventory is drawn down,” said MD Michael Carvill in a statement.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Kenmare mined 8.41-millon tonnes of ore, up 8% over the prior quarter, at an average grade of 4.34%. It also produced 337 800 t of HMC.
Ilmenite production increased by 11% to 998 200 t in the fourth quarter and was in line with guidance.
Total zircon production included an 8% increase in primary zircon production to 48 600 t, driven by drawdown from intermediate stockpiles and increased recoveries. Secondary zircon volumes increased by 9% to 25 400 t as tailings recovery projects were completed and started to contribute.
In 2017, excavated ore volumes benefited from improved dredge mining operation and a higher dry mining contribution. Increased plant utilisations through enhanced maintenance systems and improvement projects, together with continued power stability, also supported higher excavated ore volumes.
Meanwhile Kenmare said it would upgrade the capacity of its Wet Concentrator Plant B by up to 20% in 2018.
Further options are being examined that will both address grade reduction in future years and facilitate an increase in ilmenite production beyond 1-million tonnes a year.
Average received prices for the first half of 2018 are expected to continue to show improvement on the second half of 2017, benefiting from new contract prices and higher spot prices, particularly for zircon.