Kenmare plans for the future with new IHC Mining dredges & move to Nataka ore zone

Kenmare Resources PLC, one of the leading global producers of titanium minerals and zircon from the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine in northern Mozambique, has provided an update on some of its capital projects. A statement from Michael Carvill, Managing Director said: “The Board has given further approvals for the upgrade of Wet Concentrator Plant (WCP) A and transition to the Nataka ore zone. The project is expected to deliver consistent production volumes for decades to come and maintain Kenmare’s low operating costs, targeting the retention of a first quartile industry position.”

Production expectations for the full year 2023 remain in line with revised guidance provided in July: 980,000-1,040,000 t of ilmenite; 51,000-57,000 t zircon; and 8,000-9,000 t; plus 37,000-41,000 t secondary zircon and mineral sands concentrate. Guidance for 2024 will be provided with the Q4 2023 update in mid-January, with production expected to be broadly in line with the 2023 revised guidance range.

WCP A will complete mining at Namalope in late 2025, and commence its transition to the Nataka ore zone, where it is expected to operate for the remainder of its economic life, exceeding 20 years. The principal components of the project include the replacement of WCP A’s two existing dredges with higher-capacity dredges, the addition of a desliming circuit, and the construction of a TSF. The DFS for these elements have now been completed and execution has been approved by the Board. The DFS for the supporting infrastructure is underway and is expected to be completed in Q2 2024. Capital expenditure to the end of 2026 on the upgrade of WCP A and ancillary infrastructure is now expected to be between $316-331 million.

The Final Investment Decision (FID) for an upgrade of WCP B has been deferred while the WCP A investment is prioritised. A DFS to upgrade WCP B is currently underway and is expected to be completed in Q2 2024. The upgrade would add an additional 1,000 t/h of capacity to the existing 2,400 t/h plant, increasing its capacity by almost 42%. Following the FID, the WCP B upgrade would take approximately 15 months.

Kenmare and IHC Mining signed a contract in September for the delivery of two large customised mining dredges. The two dredges will each have a total installed power of 6,800 kVA and a cutter power of 1,350 kW. As they are electrically powered by using renewable hydro-electric power, these dredges will contribute to Kenmare’s goal of reducing the carbon footprint of their operations. The vessels are being built concurrently at Royal IHC’s yard in Kinderdijk, the Netherlands.

IHC Mining has already delivered three dredges to the Moma mine in the past, with the JULIA the most recent (2019). The two new dredges will operate at Nataka, a newly extended mine site, expected to operate for several decades. Kenmare is going to upgrade and transition their Wet Concentrator Plant A to Nataka, and the two dredges are an important element in the new operation. Managing Director IHC Mining Hans Greve, commented in November: “We are very proud of our long-standing relationship with Kenmare. The award of this contract underlines how we continuously strive to develop and deliver sustainable and responsible solutions that meet our clients’ needs.”