London-listed Kenmare Resources (KMR.L) hit its revised production targets for 2023, churning out 986,300 tonnes of ilmenite from its Moma mine in Mozambique despite challenging global conditions.

While heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) production dipped 9% year-on-year to 1.45 million tonnes due to lower ore grades and power disruptions, ilmenite output remained largely steady, reflecting strong demand for the high-quality feedstock in pigment production and the thriving titanium metal market.

“Markets for our products were challenging in 2023, but strong pigment production in China and the titanium metal market helped offset lower pricing,” said CEO Michael Carvill.

Despite the challenging environment, Kenmare managed to maintain its financial muscles, repaying $31 million in debt, distributing $58 million in dividends, and repurchasing $30 million in shares. The company finished the year with $21 million in net cash and expects total 2023 dividends to reach $50 million.

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On the safety front, Kenmare achieved a significant milestone, clocking two million hours worked without a lost-time injury (LTI) in December 2023. However, the full year saw five LTIs, resulting in a rolling 12-month LTI frequency rate of 0.15 per 200,000 hours worked.

For 2024, Kenmare expects ilmenite production to range between 950,000 tonnes and 1.05 million tonnes, with HMC and final product output likely to remain flat compared to 2023 due to conservative grade estimates and planned maintenance.

To mitigate past power grid issues, Kenmare has funded the refurbishment of a key substation in Mozambique, which is expected to bolster regional power stability. Additionally, a new power line is under construction, further enhancing network reliability.

Total cash operating costs are expected to rise to $219-$243 million in 2024, driven by higher production overheads and power costs. Development and study expenditures are budgeted at $189 million, primarily focused on the Nataka transition and WCP B upgrade feasibility studies.

Kenmare’s full-year 2023 results, including detailed cost breakdowns, will be published on March 20.

By; Banji Kalenga

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