Maputo — The Irish company Kenmare Resources, which mines ilmenite, rutile and zircon from the heavy mineral sands in the northern Mozambican district of Moma, reported on Wednesday that it no longer expects to meet this year’s production targets of 630,000 tonnes of ilmenite and 50,000 tonnes of zircon.
Kenmare expects the reduction to be less than 10 per cent, due partly to disruptions in electricity supply. The publicly owned electricity company, EDM, is upgrading the grid in Nampula province. This upgrade, says a Kenmare release, “although ultimately beneficial, has in the short term resulted in power disruption that reduced production in the third quarter, and continued in the fourth quarter”.
Kenmare has also faced difficulties with the Moma geology. The company operates a dredge mine, and the dredge pond on which the Wet Concentrator Plant depends, moves slowly across the deposit.
It is moving from a low-lying area to a dunal plateau, which requires raising the pond water level from 12 metres to 32 metres above sea level.
As the movement upwards continues, it has currently reached 23 metres above sea level. Kenmare says this move “has also adversely impacted production to a greater extent than had been anticipated for the fourth quarter”.
The release adds that expansion of the mine “is on track to commence commissioning by the end of this year”. Training of the additional staff required “is already well underway”.
The expansion requires a new dredge, which is now complete, and the filling of a second mine pond with water will begin in December. That, the release says, “will allow the start of the commissioning of both the dredge and new Wet Concentrator Plant (WCP B). The Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separation Plant and the Auxiliary Ilmenite Plant will start their commissioning process in December”.
Ilmenite and rutile are mostly used to produce pigments, while zircon is used in ceramics.