The Dublin and London listed company Kenmare Resources, which operates the Moma titanium minerals mine on the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, on Wednesday has announced that it set a record for production of ilmenite in the second quarter of this year.
In a statement, the company noted that it produced 41 per cent more heavy mineral concentrate than in the same period last year and that the higher grade and volume resulted in the extraction of 283,000 tonnes of ilmenite – a 35 per cent increase.
The other two minerals extracted from the mine also showed increases over the same quarter in 2020: zircon production increased by 28 per cent to 14,900 tonnes and rutile increased by 47 per cent to 2,200 tonnes.
According to Kenmare’s managing director, Michael Carvill, “market conditions for ilmenite, and titanium feedstocks in general, remained strong in the second quarter of 2021 with pricing strengthening quarter on quarter. The outlook for zircon has also continued to improve, with price increases during the quarter and continuing to date”.
Kenmare also revealed that it is taking measures to protect its staff and local community from the effects of Covid-19. It noted that the number of cases at Moma had fallen from 41 people in isolation in April to zero by late May. However, the number of people isolating has now increased to fifteen and the company has expressed concern at the rise in southern Africa of the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19
It added that “protecting our people and the communities in which we operate has always been Kenmare’s highest priority. In addition to the various physical distancing and hygiene protocols, and testing procedures, Kenmare has been working with industry partners and the government of Mozambique to acquire, distribute and administer vaccines. The vaccines are now on the way to site and vaccinations of the mine workforce and local communities are expected to start later this month”.
The Moma mine produces ilmenite (titanium iron oxide), rutile (titanium dioxide) and zircon (zirconium silicate). Ilmenite and rutile are used to make white pigments for paints, paper, and plastic. Titanium can be extracted from these ores and used to manufacture metallic parts where lightweight and high strength are needed. Zircon is used for abrasive and insulating purposes.