The Irish company Kenmare Resources, which operates the Moma Titanium Minerals mine, on the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, has reported record annual production in 2017 of the three minerals it extracts - ilmenite (iron titanium oxide), rutile (titanium dioxide) and zircon (zirconium silicate).
Kenmare's review of the year said that ilmenite production increased by 11 per cent, from 903,300 tonnes in 2016 to 998,200 tonnes in 2017. Over the year, zircon production increased by nine per cent, from 68,200 to 74,000 tonnes. Rutile production of 9,100 tonnes was a 17 per cent improvement on the 2016 figure.
Total shipments of finished products were up by two per cent, from 1,024,200 to 1,040,400 tonnes.
The company's net debt fell from US$44.8 to US$34.1 million. Kenmare is optimistic about the future, since prices have increased for all its products, and the outlook is favourable for ilmenite and zircon demand in 2018.
The Kenmare managing director, Michael Carvill, commented "2017 was a further consecutive year of record delivery for Kenmare. Both production and shipments of all products were at record levels".
He expected production in 2018 "to moderate slightly, mainly due to lower opening stockpiles, though ilmenite shipment volumes are expected to be maintained as finished goods inventory is drawn down".
Kenmare expects the prices for its minerals to increase still further in 2018, benefitting from new contract prices and higher spot prices, particularly for zircon.