22 January 2014

Kenya: Base Titanium Concerned Over Export Permit Delay

AUSTRALIAN mining company Base Titanium is concerned over the delay in the issuance of an export permit from the Ministry of Mining.

Base Titanium filed an export permit application on December 16, to enable the company export its first shipment of mineral products from the $300 million (Sh25.7 billion) mineral investment sand project in Kwale.

However, the company is yet to receive any communication from the ministry despite preparation for its first shipment scheduled for end of this month being on top gear.

According to the general manager for external affairs and development Joe Schwarz, the company expects to ship out a small batch of containerized minerals to the Asian market.

Schwarz said transferring of rutile and ilmenite from the Kwale plant to the company's Likoni storage shade is at an advanced stage and the stock is almost ready for export.

Speaking to the Star on phone yesterday, Schwarz said the company is concerned since the ministry is aware of its itinerary, but is yet to respond to their request for the export permit. "The stock at our Likoni storage shed is now building up in readiness for our first shipment by the end of this month. We however wonder why there is a delay from the other side (ministry) since we are yet to be cleared for export," said Schwarz.

According to the GM, the company is currently producing two types of minerals which are rutile and ilmenite.

Ilmenite and some rutile are currently being transferred to the company's Likoni jetty storage ready for shipment.

However, Schwarz said majority of the rutile will be packed at the company's Maumba site in Kwale.

The first batch of containerized rutile minerals destined for Japan will be shipped through the normal Kenya Ports Authority terminal once the company is cleared for export.

The second shipment which will be ilmenite will be in bulk and will be shipped through the company's Sh2.5 billion port facility at the Likoni.

"We are really looking up to the first dispatch. We have very high hopes and wish they will give us the permit on time for the first shipment," said Schwarz.

The company expects to export 100 tonnes of rutile in its first shipment which Schwarz said will mark a key milestone in the development of the country's first large-scale mining project.

The first batch of ilmenite is expected to be between 25-35 tonnes.

Schwarz said the company will also start producing Zircon very soon which will be 100 per cent containerized.

He said the company will put into full use its Sh2.5 billion Likoni jetty once large scale production commences.

The jetty allows one ship to dock at a time with the largest ship being that of a capacity of 55,000 tonnes.

The company with an investment base of $300 million (Sh25.7 billion) in the mining sector is expected to contribute close to one per cent annual GDP to the country's economy with $200 million (17.1 billion) in annual export revenue.

Income from the Titanium mining in Kwale is set to displace coffee as the fourth ranked foreign exchange as the company begins exporting the minerals.

This puts Kenya among top producers of Ilmenite, rutile and zircon where the Kwale mines will account for 14 per cent of global supply, and only second to South Africa on the continent.

According to Schwarz, Base Titanium has planned annual exports of about 330,000 tones of ilmenite, 80,000 tones of rutile, and 30,000 tones of zircon.

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