Sierra Leone — Sierra Rutile Limited has reported the highest quarter of rutile production and the highest annual production in 2015 since the operation was restarted in 2006.
“Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free in November 2015 and we are proud to have achieved this result during a difficult backdrop. Looking forward into 2016, we remain focused on unlocking shareholder value in a disciplined way: aligning production volumes to customer requirements, continuous cost improvements and productivity enhancements. We have further strengthened our position as a leading producer of premium grade rutile and continue to work in close collaboration with our customers on long-term rutile demand planning.”
Sierra Rutile is a leading mineral sands company, operating world-class assets in Sierra Leone. Sierra Rutile is in the process of significantly expanding its core rutile production, with associated increases of zircon and ilmenite by-products.
Sierra Rutile’s core product is rutile, one of a group of titanium dioxide minerals (TiO2), predominantly used in the manufacture of white pigment. Rutile, as well as other TiO2 minerals, are used in the pigment industry, due to their particularly high brightness and opacity characteristics. White pigment itself is then used in the global paint, plastics and paper industries.
Rutile is known as a “high-grade” feedstock for pigment manufacture as it requires significantly less processing than other feedstocks in the pigment manufacturing process. This means manufacturing of pigment from rutile consumes less ore, coke and chloride than for other TiO2 feedstocks, while at the same time generating less waste; making rutile the premium pigment feedstock.
Rutile is also used in increasing volumes in titanium metal production, where rutile’s high titanium content makes it the preferred source of titanium units. Sierra Rutile also produces by-products of ilmenite, a lower-grade pigment feedstock and zircon, used in the global ceramics industry.
Q4 2015 rutile production was 25% higher than Q4 2014 with 38,787 tonnes of rutile and 10,484 tonnes of ilmenite produced (Q4 2014: 31,025 tonnes of rutile and 10,574 tonnes of ilmenite), representing Sierra Rutile’s highest quarter of rutile production to-date..
The company says this set of results for Q4 2015 represented a 14% increase over Q3 2015 rutile production (Q3 2015: 33,960 tonnes) and a run-rate higher than any year of Sierra Rutile’s production on an annualised basis.