Kenya's giant titanium mining project to start this September

KENYA: After years of false starts, titanium mining in Kwale County will finally kick off before the end of this month, the mining company has announced.

Base Titanium Ltd has said the commissioning and testing of the processing plant was underway while the construction of other infrastructure had been completed, paving the way for the extraction of the mineral.

“Mining is due to start near the end of this month, which will be followed soon by processing,” said Joe Schwarz, the general manager for external affairs and development, in an interview with The Standard on Sunday.

The mineral-sand mining project estimated to have a life span of between eleven and 14 years would have a gross sale of around Sh130 billion, yielding an estimated net present value of Sh39.5 billion, according to objective estimates.

Final cost

Commencement of operations and the expected financial windfall will be a game changer for the impoverished Kwale County, which is expected to share a royalty of 2.5 per cent of the gross sales value with the national government.

“The first shipment of minerals is expected to take place before the end of the year,” said Schwarz.

According to him, titanium mining output of refined products would be about 330,000 metric tonnes a year of ilminite, 80,000 tonnes a year of rutil and 40,000 tonnes annually of zircon. The bulk of these products has already been contracted under long-term off-take agreements, said Schwarz in an interview.

The minerals are used as pigment in paper, plastics, ceramics, as well as titanium metal and other products. Titanium mining in Kwale is billed as the first ever large-scale international mining project.

Currently, according to estimates from the Central Bank of Kenya, mining in the country generated revenue of Sh6.18 billion in 2009. Schwarz said the Kwale project would almost triple the value of mineral exports from Kenya.

“A project faces different challenges during its life cycle. The main challenges right now are to complete construction, ensure successful testing and commissioning of the plant and equipment, train plant operators and achieve rapid ramp up to full production,” said Schwarz. “As a large and complex project nears completion, a more accurate picture of the final cost emerges,” he said.

Posted on : 30 Nov,-0001

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