Mineral sands miner Base Resources is positive about the prospects of its Kenya-based $310-million Kwale mineral sands project, located about 50 km south of Mombasa and 10 km inland from the Indian Ocean.
The miner last month received an export permit to wave off its first bulk shipment from the Kwale project and reported that the maiden shipment of about 25 000 t of ilmenite recently set sail from the Likoni marine facility, which was completed in December last year.
Base Resources added that deliveries of finished ilmenite and rutile product were being stockpiled in the 60 000-t-capacity port’s storage shed in advance of the shipment.
Further, all work packages at Kwale were complete and operational, with the exception of the zircon circuit of the mineral separation plant, which was undergoing feed commis-sioning.
Zircon production was scheduled to start in the last week of February. Kwale produced its first ilmenite and rutile concentrate in December last year.
Mine Site Facilities
The Kwale processing plant is designed to process ore, recover ilmenite, rutile and zircon products and generate several reject streams. A dozer-trap mining unit has been selected as the optimum mining method, instead of a large bucket wheel excavator.
A port facility will also be built at Likoni, 50 km north of the project site, on the southern side of the existing shipping channel that services the Port of Mombasa. The Kwale project has a Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant reserve of 140.6-million tons, grading at 4.9% total heavy minerals, of which 61% is in the proven category.
It boasts a 13-year life-of-mine and is expected to produce about 4.7-million tons of product.
Some of the project’s key suppliers include natural resources and development solutions company SRK Consulting, Barclays Capital, Standard Chartered Bank, German State-owned lender West LB and Caterpillar Finance (underwriters); engineering, procurement, construction and management solutions provider Ausenco (main contractor – detailed design and engineering, and engineering, procurement and construction management contract); turnkey solutions provider Actom (power station) and minerals company Lamco (port facility).