Thanks to the improved performance Base Resources has upgraded its guidance for 2020.
It now expects to produce 75,000 to 81,000 tonnes of rutile, up from a range of 64,000 to 70,000, and, 335,000 to 355,000 tonnes of ilmenite versus prior guidance of 315,000 to 350,000.
Some 29,000 to 32,000 tonnes of zircon are projected, upgraded from prior guidance for 25,000 to 28,000 tonnes.
Kwale, in Kenya, saw a ramp-up in mining operations during the quarter, after a move to the South Dune orebody delivered better heavy mineral grades, as anticipated, due to the transition into the centre of the orebody from the fringes.
The December quarter yielded 91,406 tonnes of ilmenite versus 73,808 tonnes in the preceding quarter, while rutile volumes increased to 19,812 tonnes from 16,390 tonnes, regular zircon output measured 7,923 tonnes up from 6,980 tonnes, and some 546 tonnes of low-grade tungsten was produced versus 466 tonnes.
Base reported 106,544 tonnes of ilmenite sales in the fourth quarter, up from 60,109 tonnes in the third quarter, while rutile sales were slightly lower in the quarter at 19,812 tonnes and zircon sales were slightly higher at 7,090 tonnes.
Whilst quarter-on-quarter comparison shows improved performance, the Q4 2019 still lagged Q4 2018 somewhat.
The company also noted that fourth-quarter operating costs were marginally lower than in the third quarter which boosted by higher output meant materially unit costs of around US$140 per tonne versus US$173.
It highlighted that market conditions support stronger rutile and ilmenite prices.
Focusing on project development, the company noted findings of the Kwale North Dune concept study which during the quarter supported progression to a pre-feasibility study.
Meanwhile, the Toliara project’s feasibility study outcomes were released and Base highlighted that they reinforced the company’s view that the Toliara is a world-class mineral sands project.
Drilling at Toliara also revealed significant additional high-grade mineralisation, it added.
On-site work at Toliara was suspended by the Government of Madagascar whilst talks continue over fiscal terms.