Reserves at Kenmare’s Moma titanium mine to last 120 years

Irish headquartered Kenmare Resources has pegged the mine life of its Moma titanium mineral mine in Mozambique’s northern province of Nampula at 120 years – far higher than its last estimate of 20 years – following a new reserve discovery at Nantaka, close to the mine.

Kenmare Moma Mining Director General Antony Hagarthy told Mozambique’s daily – Noticias – that exploitation of the titanium-bearing heavy mineral sands will last over a hundred years because discoveries of further reserves at Nantaka have substantially uprated reserve estimates recorded at Toquito where the company did its original drilling.

“We are prepared to exploit these resources for as long as needed because the market for the minerals is guaranteed in the United States, Europe and Japan, to feed their aviation industries and the production of paints, ceramics and other products,” Noticias quotes Hagarthy as saying.

In April this year, the company announced a 60 percent increase in the resources base at the mine following a drilling programme at the Nataka area. The company said the resource base had risen from an estimated 101 million tonnes to 163 million tonnes of contained ilmenite. This resulted into associated increases in co-products to 12.4 million tonnes of zircon and 3.6 million tonnes of rutile.

When fully commissioned, Kenmare – dual listed on London and Irish Stock Exchange – expects to achieve annual production levels of 800,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 21,000 tonnes of rutile and 56,000 tonnes of zircon, which is used in the ceramic industry. The company wants to produce around 80 percent of the global supply of titanium feedstocks. To achieve the feat, expansions have been planned so as to increase production levels to 1.2 million tonnes per annum of ilmenite plus co-products by the end of 2009.

Mining operations at Moma commenced in April and it was expected the company would ship its first ore in July. But according to Hagarthy, ore exports will only begin in September. He says the delay is because the water at the mineral jetty built for exports is only seven metres deep, which is not deep enough for large bulk carriers. Meanwhile, it has hired a company in Singapore to construct smaller ships. Noticias reports that the company plans to export 80,000 tonnes of minerals a month in two ships each carrying 40,000 tonnes of ore.

In addition, Hagarthy says shipping of ore would only commence in September because the company is also waiting for a sizeable amount to be mined. The company has already built a plant to separate and process the ore but this is yet to start operating.

Kenmare Resources is expected to spend over US$450 million on the Moma project. Apart from this project, Kenmare also has an active uranium exploration programme underway in Mozambique’s other northern provinces of Tete and Niassa.

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