15 March 2014, Nairobi – Australian mining company Base Titanium expects to ship out of the country the second batch of minerals this weekend.
The company which is moving bulks of minerals from its Maumba mining site in Kwale to its Likoni jetty and storage facility is gearing to send out of the country another 25,000 tonnes of Ilmenite, similar to the first shipment made last month.
Speaking to the Star on phone, the company’s general manager – External Affairs and Development Joe Schwarz yesterday confirmed the minerals will be heading to China, the same market it exported the first batch.
The company made history last month when it shipped the first ever titanium minerals- 25,000 tonnes of ilmenite from Kenya worth at an estimated Sh387 million.
Schwarz confirmed that unlike the first shipment where the mining ministry delayed to issue the company with an export permit until the last minute, the second shipment has already been cleared having received an export permit last week.
“We received the permit last week and we expect the second batch to leave Mombasa anytime this weekend. This will be another big shipment of Ilmenite and a clear word to the global market that Kenya is emerging as a big producer,” said Schwarz.
According to Schwarz, the company has embarked on a dynamic production and separation of minerals at the company’s mineral separation plant in Kwale.
He said the company has already started producing zircon which it expects to export the first batch by the end of this month together with rutile.
“We started producing zircon about three weeks ago and the progress is good. Rutile is already piling up at our Likoni facility and the two minerals will be going out by end of the month. Zircon will be 100 percent containerized,” he said.
Kenya is looking forward to reap from the exports through royalties as it emerges as a major producer of ilmenite, rutile and zircon where the Kwale mines account for 14 percent of global supply, and only second to South Africa on the continent.
The company is however said not to be happy with the new royalties and payment structures by the government.
According to reports, the government is seeking to raise the royalties to 10 per cent contrary to the special mining lease issued to the company in 2004 that indicates that base titanium is to pay 2.5 per cent of the gross revenue of the minerals sold to the market.
The company has so far invested Sh 30 billion in the project which is expected to contribute close to one percent annual GDP to the county’s economy with about Sh 17.1 billion in annual export revenue.
– The Star