Titanium miner eyes Tanzania as Kenya withholds licences


Base Titanium factory in Kwale County where the minerals are processed. FILE PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Kwale miner Base Titanium has shifted its exploration for new mineral resources to Tanzania as Kenya maintains a ban on issuing new licences.

The firm says the activities at the Tanzanian site of Umba South have resulted in the discovery of rutile and graphite deposits following the drilling of 122 holes in a three-kilometre stretch.

Its parent firm Base Resources, which is based in Australia and is also looking to set up a titanium mining operation in Madagascar, made the disclosures in an update.

Read: How Base Titanium injected Sh16.5bn into the economy

“With the company unable to carry out exploration activities in Kuranze (Kenya) due to its prospecting licence applications for that area being on hold following the Government of Kenya’s ongoing moratorium on the issuance of new mineral rights, efforts were instead directed to the southern portion of the ridge in Tanzania,” the multinational said.

The moratorium on issuing new exploration licences took effect in 2019 to allow Kenya to complete a resource mapping exercise.

Umba South is located near the junction of the Umba and Bombo Rivers in northern Tanzania, approximately 75 kilometres west-south-west of Base Titanium’s Kwale operations in Kenya.

The company said exploration activities have so far been confined to areas south of Umba River, as it seeks to obtain the necessary approvals from the Tanzanian government to explore the Mkomazi Game Controlled Area to the north.

“Exploration at Umba South targeted a high‐grade metamorphic sequence within the Mozambique Belt that comprises paragneiss (quartzo feldspathic gneiss) and sillimanite kyanite (garnet) schists. The sequence includes accessory minerals pyrite, rutile, magnetite and graphite, with rutile the primary exploration target,” said the firm.

The multinational’s Kenyan operation posted a 12.6 percent decline in sales during the quarter ended March, with the performance linked to lower prices of the minerals ilmenite, rutile and zircon.

Read: Kwale-based titanium miner spends Sh1 billion on new site

Its revenue stood at Sh9.8 billion in the review period, down from Sh11.3 billion a year earlier.

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