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Australian firm begins zircon production in Kenya

18 February 2014, 18:55

Nairobi - Australian mineral sands miner Base Resources said Tuesday it has started zircon production at its Kwale mineral sands project.

The firm said in a statement that the following the commissioning of the ilmenite and rutile circuits of the mineral separation plant in December 2013, wet zircon feed has now been taken through the zircon circuit to produce zircon product.

"Over the next several weeks processing rates are planned to be ramped up and inventories of zircon built up ahead of the commencement of containerised zircon sales in March," Base Resources said.

The move comes after the firm begun its first shipment of ilmenite product from the Kwale project last Friday, with the company shipping some 25,000 tonnes of ilmenite to customers in China.

The MV African Eagle, operating under load for the first time, performed to expectation and was able to reach its design capacity of 1,000 tonnes per hour.

"All work packages are now complete and operational with only minor defect list items remaining outstanding. The main focus is now on balancing and debottlenecking. The MSP in order to progress the ramp- up to achieve nameplate throughput," it said.

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the government has invested 11.6 million U.S. dollars on compensation and land allocation to the project.

The government also provided 1700 acres that made the project successful. "The project is historic having taken 18 years before the realization of the first export," Balala said last Friday.

The products include 340,000 metric tonnes of ilmenite, 30,000 of zircon and 80,000 metric tonnes of rutile products. Base had cash and cash equivalents of 33.3 million at December quarter end.

Base Titanium External Affairs General Manager Joe Schwarz said the first shipment is a key significant that Kenya is ready to venture into the mineral mining sector

He said the export will steadily increase of Kenya earning through foreign exchange and bolster relation among the two nations.

The company, with an investment base of 300 million dollars in the mining sector, is expected to contribute close to 1 percent annual GDP to the country's economy with 200 million dollars in annual export revenue.

- Xinhua


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