Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base

NEWLY freed from the shackles of debt, African mineral sands producer Base Resources has reported solid performance for its Kwale project in Kenya for the first half of the financial year with a 66% increase in ore mined helping offset 45% lower ore grades.
Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base Ilmenite demand remains strong for Base

Base is celebrating being debt free for the first time.

Haydn Black

Reporter

Production was steady at 49,630 tonnes of rutile, 226,730t of ilmenite and 17,935t of zircon, sold into markets with stronger rutile and zircon prices, and ilmenite demand that has not dipped in the December quarter as has traditionally been the case.
 
"We'd normally expect to see a softer market, but we are seeing very strong forward orders," Base boss Tim Carstens said this morning.
 
The company's total revenue increased 13% to US$102.2 million, EBITDA increased 7% to $57.5 million, while net profit after tax was up 4% was $17.4 million.
 
Despite higher costs, Base announced last month it had paid $34.2 million at December 31 to clear its debts, moving into a positive net cash position for the first time.
 
Operationally, while Kwale is close to completing mining on the Central Dune, the company is moving its operations to the South Dune deposit from June.
 
Modifications to the plant have allowed it to address the lower grades being recovered in "cleaning up" the Central Dune and the plant was approaching a processing rate of 20Mtpa, well above its nameplate design of 12Mtpa.
 
The miner is still finalising its mine plan for the South Dune, and should be in a position to announce its forward guidance soon.
 
Carstens said the company was looking forward to starting its second operation - and was considering debt, equity and joint venture financing options for Toliara in Madagascar, which he said was "progressing well".
 
"We had a productive six months. It's coming together well, and we're quite pleased with how it's looking," he said.
 
The plant test work and flowsheet design, infrastructure design, distribution of marketing samples and land acquisition processes are advancing.
 
Base expects to deliver the results of as prefeasibility study in late March.
 
He hoped that event would allow the markets to better value Base.
 
A definitive feasibility study is expected in the December quarter and a start of construction planned for early 2020 with first production before the end of 2021. 
 
Kwale has sufficient reserves to last until 2022 and resources for a further two years, but Carstens is fairly confident that the new but undrilled Vanga exploration licence, and a mining lease to the north previously owned by a third party that should be granted soon, will offer life extension prospects.
 
Base, which is listed the Australian Securities Exchange and London's Alternative Investment Market, saw its shares unmoved by the half-year result, with the company's ASX stock steady at A28c, capitalising it at $324 million.