Income from the Titanium mining in Kwale is set to displace coffee as the fourth-ranked foreign exchange earner soon after exports start rolling out of the port of Mombasa in the 4rd quarter of next year.
The project will triple earnings in mineral sector to Sh2 billion annually, translating to about Sh26 billion over the 13 year life of the Kwale mine project through royalties and taxation.
Physical construction works at the Kwale Mineral Sands project by Base Titanium Kenya, a subsidiary of Base Resources Company from Australia are at over 27 percent.
The company has spent 150 million dollars of the estimated total start up cost of 310 million, on five major supporting projects including a jetty, and processing plant infrastructure.
The company is constructing an eight kilometer road from the mines to the existing road, a 14 kilometere 132KV power transmission line and a sub station.
"We are on course to meet the targeted first shipment of Ilmenite, rutile and zircon from Kenya in November next year," said Tim Carstens the managing director of Base Titanium.
At full production, the Kwale mines will account for 14 per cent of global supply, and only second to South Africa on the continent. Base Titanium has planned annual exports of about 300,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 80,000 tonnes of rutile, 30,000 tonnes of zircon.
"We have already have entered into pre-production export deals and therefore we are confident of the products absorption in the international at least for the first five years of the production period," said Carstens.
He said there are all the products will be shipped due to the fact that it is not economically viable to establish industries for utilizing the material in the country.
"The products are used for making pigmentation products and tiles both of which would be impossible to justify a manufacturing plant locally," Carstens said.
He said they are partnering with local stock brokers to offer Kenyans a chance to won a piece of the company through the Australian stock exchange. He listing Base Titanium at the Nairobi Securities exchange is within their plans.
Carstens said they are looking at future prospects of setting up another mining project in Mambrui area of Kilifi, where are there proven titanium minerals, but of lower quality compared to the Kwale resources.
He is however worried by the government push to have 35 percent share in the mining projects, which may make prospective investors flee.
"When the minister made the announcement, our share at the Australian stock exchange plunged and it has never recovered, which means investors will no longer look at Kenyan mining sector as attractive," Carsten said.
According to Carsten their long term plan is to venture into other parts the country to prospect for more minerals including zinc lead and iron so long as the mining sector is well managed.
He said the proposed construction transport corridor from Lamu to South Sudan and Ethiopia has whet their appetite to seek opportunities in the north, and North Eastern parts of Kenya believed to be rich in minerals.