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Kenmare Resources plc (“Kenmare” or “the Company”)
15 April 2021
Q1 2021 Production Report
Kenmare Resources plc (LSE:KMR, ISE:KMR), one of the leading global producers of titanium minerals and zircon, which operates the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine (the "Mine" or "Moma") in northern Mozambique, is pleased to provide a trading update for the quarter ending 31 March 2021 (“Q1 2021”).
Statement from Michael Carvill, Managing Director:
“I am pleased to report that the number of people in isolation for COVID-19 at Moma has fallen from 177 in mid-March to 41 currently. Whilst operations continued throughout, there have been minor interruptions as a result.
It’s very pleasing to see the uplift in production as WCP B settles into normal operation in Pilivili. We remain confident in the outlook for production and re-iterate our guidance of 1.1-1.2 million tonnes per annum of ilmenite in 2021.
Our rising production volumes are also well supported by strong demand for our products. Market conditions for ilmenite remain strong and the backdrop for zircon has also been improving and we expect prices to begin rising in the coming quarters.”
The number of people in isolation due to COVID-19 at Moma was 41 on the 13 April, having seen steady reduction from 177 reported on 10 March
Lost time injury frequency rate (“LTIFR”) of 0.24 per 200,000 man-hours worked on a 12-month rolling basis, an improvement from 0.25 in Q4 2020
Heavy Mineral Concentrate (“HMC”) production increased 46% to 361,900 tonnes (Q1 2020: 248,100 tonnes), benefitting from a 37% increase in grade and a 10% increase in tonnes excavated
Ilmenite production increased 73% to 275,100 tonnes (Q1 2020: 159,100)
Primary zircon production increased 39% to 13,300 tonnes (Q1 2020: 9,600)
Rutile production increased 36% to 1,900 tonnes (Q1 2020: 1,400)
Total shipments of finished products up 77% to 344,400 tonnes (Q1 2020: 194,600 tonnes), benefitting from increased production volumes and upgraded transhipment capacity
The ilmenite market has remained strong, with further price increases received in Q1 2021
The outlook for the zircon market has improved as increased global demand and low inventories have led to price increases in early Q2 2021
COVID-19 cases at site have been steadily decreasing, with 41 people in isolation on 13 April 2021, down from 177 on the 10 March 2021. Protecting our people has always been Kenmare’s highest priority. In addition to the pre-existing physical distancing and hygiene protocols, Kenmare has been conducting weekly testing of the complete workforce on the site. This has helped identify and isolate positive cases more quickly and limit the spread of the virus.
However, the larger number of cases limited the availability of personnel, including senior management, in Q1 2021. While the business has been managed to mitigate the impact and production has continued, some impacts on production were experienced during the quarter but are difficult to quantify.
Production from the Moma Mine in Q1 2021 was as follows:
Excavated ore and grade prior to any floor losses.
Concentrates include secondary zircon and mineral sands concentrate.
During Q1 2021 Kenmare further improved its safety performance, with a rolling 12-month LTIFR of 0.24 per 200,000 man-hours worked (Q4 2020: 0.25) due to new risk assessment processes becoming embedded in operations.
HMC production was 361,900 tonnes in Q1 2021, representing a 46% increase compared to Q1 2020 (248,100 tonnes), mainly due to the 37% increase in ore grade as WCP B is now mining in the higher grade Pilivili deposit. A 10% increase in excavated ore was also a significant factor, due to a higher contribution from WCP C, which began operating in February 2020, as well as slightly increased volumes at WCP A and WCP B.
Mining utilisations are expected to rise for the remainder of the year, supporting higher excavated ore volumes. This is a principal area of management focus. Grades are expected to be maintained between 4.5-5% Total Heavy Mineral until Q4 (when grades are anticipated to drop to ~3.7%), before normalising at around 4.3% in 2022.
Production of all finished products from the Mineral Separation Plant increased during Q1 2021 as a result of increased HMC production from the mine. Ilmenite production was 275,100 tonnes, up 73% (Q1 2020: 159,100 tonnes); primary zircon production was 13,300 tonnes, up 39% (Q1 2020: 9,600 tonnes); rutile production was 1,900 tonnes, up 36% (Q1 2020: 1,400 tonnes); and concentrates production was 8,900 tonnes, up 3% (Q1 2020: 8,600 tonnes). Concentrate production increased less than primary zircon due to an intermediate stock build of 3,600 tonnes during the quarter, which is expected to reverse.
Total shipments in Q1 2021 increased 77% compared to Q1 2020 (Q1 2020: 194,600 tonnes), reflecting strong product market conditions and aided by the increased capacity of the transhipment vessels, following previously announced upgrade works. Kenmare shipped 344,400 tonnes of finished products during the period. Shipments comprised of 326,700 tonnes of ilmenite, 8,500 tonnes of primary zircon, and 9,300 tonnes of concentrates. No rutile was shipped during the quarter.
Closing stock of HMC at the end of Q1 2021 was 20,900 tonnes, compared with 50,200 tonnes at the start of the year. Closing stock of finished products at the end of Q1 2021 was 101,000 tonnes (Q4 2020: 145,500 tonnes).
Capital projects update
The final parts of the HMC pumping pipeline for WCP B operations at Pilivili have been installed, with commissioning now underway. The total capital cost of the WCP B move is estimated at US$127 million, as outlined in the 2020 Preliminary Results.
The ilmenite market continued to perform strongly into 2021 and Kenmare achieved price increases for ilmenite in Q1 2021.
Following on from the strong recovery in H2 2020, demand for titanium pigment remained buoyant in Q1 2021, as downstream markets saw a strong uplift from the ongoing global economic recovery. Pigment producers are operating at high utilisation rates to meet demand and due to low inventory levels, this is flowing directly through to demand for titanium feedstocks. The titanium metal market is also starting to recover in key regions such as Asia, which has further bolstered ilmenite demand.
Ilmenite supply continues to be constrained in India, while recent mine closures in Australia have also reduced supply. This has been more than offset by increased ilmenite supply from Vietnam in recent months and higher ilmenite production in China. Despite higher supply from these sources, ilmenite demand has exceeded Kenmare’s ability to supply in Q1 2021 even after drawing on finished product inventories.
The outlook remains positive as demand for Kenmare’s products is strong across all major geographical regions, with many recovering faster than anticipated. We have secured the majority of sales for Q2 2021 and expect ilmenite demand to remain robust as pigment inventories remain low through the supply chain.
Market dynamics for zircon improved in Q1 2021, benefitting from higher global demand and low inventories. As a result, prices have shown increases in early Q2 2021.
For further information, please contact:
Kenmare Resources plc
Tel: +353 1 671 0411
Mob: + 353 87 943 0367
Murray (PR advisor)
Tel: +353 1 498 0300
Mob: +353 87 690 9735
About Kenmare Resources
Kenmare Resources plc is one of the world’s largest producers of mineral sands products. Listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Dublin, Kenmare operates the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine in Mozambique. Moma’s production accounts for approximately 5% of global titanium feedstocks and the Company supplies to customers operating in more than 15 countries. Kenmare produces raw materials that are ultimately consumed in everyday “quality-of life” items such as paints, plastics and ceramic tiles.
Forward Looking Statements
This announcement contains some forward-looking statements that represent Kenmare's expectations for its business, based on current expectations about future events, which by their nature involve risks and uncertainties. Kenmare believes that its expectations and assumptions with respect to these forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, because they involve risk and uncertainty, which are in some cases beyond Kenmare's control. Actual results or performance may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information.