Base Titanium makes its first mineral shipment from Kenya

Thursday February 13 2014

A view of the Base Titanium processing unit at

A view of the Base Titanium processing unit at night. The most bizarre aspect of the Mining Bill is the plan to place massive discretionary powers in the hands of the Cabinet secretary in charge of mining. PHOTO/CARLOS MUREITHI NATION

By JOSHUA MASINDE
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Base Titanium made its first shipment of minerals from Kenya worth Sh387 million on Thursday at the port of Mombasa.

The over four years of exploration activity at the Kwale mining site saw an initial 25,000 tonnes of Ilmenite extract of titanium mineral loaded to the ship for export to China.

This is part of the estimated 330,000 tonnes of Ilmenite worth Sh5.1 billion that is to be shipped out each year.

Indicative market prices for titanium minerals from the mine are about ($180)Sh15,480 at current exchange rates per tonne for ilmenite, Sh103,200 ($1,200) per tonne for rutile and Sh86,000 ($1,000) per tonne for zircon.

The discovery of modest mineral deposits in Kenya recently promises to usher it into the global commodities market that saw exporters reap big towards the end of the last decade lifting their net external positions as commodity prices hardened.

"We are going to be doing bulk shipments like this more or less every three to four weeks. But, there will be smaller shipments as well," Mr Joe Swartz told Nation at the event marking the loading of the mineral to a 27,000 tonne capacity cargo ship.

Ilmenite

This bulk is mainly for Ilmenite. The other smaller shipments will be rutile from here and zircon which will be containerised for shipment," the firm’s general manager for external affairs and development.

He and other company officials declined to comment on whether there were any adjustments with regard to royalty payments fee that had see a delay in the award of an export license.

Mining cabinet secretary, Najib Balala, who was also present, declined to state what they had agreed upon, only saying that they are still discussing the issue.

“Calculations of royalties will only be done after shipments have been dispatched from Kenya. So, those other details of calculations will come in due course,” the minister said.

Kenya is banking on the prospect of increased mineral exports to shore up its ailing balance of payment, seal its budget deficit and boost economic growth.