Irish company Kenmare Resources has reported production of record levels of titanium minerals last year from its mine at Moma, on the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Nampula.

The dredge mine produces ilmenite (titanium iron oxide), rutile (titanium dioxide) and zircon (zirconium silicate).

In its latest trading update, the company reported that its annual production of ilmenite had increased by 18 per cent to 903,300 tonnes in 2016 from 763,500 tonnes in 2015. Meanwhile, zircon output increased by 32 per cent to 68,200 tonnes and rutile production jumped by 30 per cent to 7,800 tonnes.

The annual total shipments of finished products grew by 28 per cent to 1,024,200 tonnes. These increases were the result of improved mining conditions as well as better electric power stability and consistency.

According to the company’s Managing Director, Michael Carvill, 2016 saw Kenmare deliver a record year of both production and shipments of all products” with the fourth quarter of 2016 being another record quarter, continuing the increasing production trend and improving on the record set in the prior quarter.

Production in 2017 is expected to rise further as mine optimisation continues, while unit costs of production are anticipated to fall further, he added.

Carvill added that although demand for ilmenite had grown strongly through the year, the amount that the company received for its ilmenite lagged behind the spot prices because of contracts being signed before the market resurgence. However, he stated that the prices received during the first half of 2017 will show a significant improvement on 2016.

In its analysis of market conditions, Kenmare notes that China is the world’s largest titanium customer, where demand for imports has risen by around 40 per cent. This demand has outstripped supply and led to the improved prices.