“This is a really important milestone for the company,” Tim Carstens, chief executive officer of Base Resources told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.
The operation, named Kwale Mineral Sands project, had been delayed since 2006 due to financing issues and disputes. It will also be Kenya’s first large scale international mining project and is also recognised as one of the best mineral sands projects to date.
“The commencement of ore mining and processing is the first step for us down the path of operationalizing this project. It’s really important because it marks the first step in our transition from a project developer to a new producer,” Carstens explained.
The project is forecast to rake in gross sales of about 1.5 billion US dollars over its lifespan and produce 330,000 tonnes of ilmenite a year, contributing to about 10 per cent of the global supply as well as churn out 80,000 tonnes of rutile and 30,000 tonnes of zircon per year.
“We have our full portfolio of contracts that we want to put in place at this stage, covering all three products, rutile, ilmenite and zircon. Where we sit at the moment, we’ve got the contracts in place that we need to get going for the first 12 months,” he said.
The group is set to complete construction and commissioning of its mineral separation by December 2013.
The next milestone, Carsten added, is once the first bulk of finished product is shipped off in January 2014.
“The really big milestone which we are all looking forward to is waving goodbye to our first bulk shipment of product in January,” he said.