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Iluka trims zircon forecast

May.08 2020      Source:mining weekly

Keywords:Iluka

Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has announced plans to cut its zircon production by as much as 110 000 t for the 2020 financial year, on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The miner told shareholders that the Chinese ceramic industry went into total lockdown during February and was shut until mid March, resulting in significantly lower zircon sales during the three months to March.

The company altered its production settings at the Narngulu mineral separation plant to reduce zircon production during this period of market uncertainty, saying that if the new production settings remained in place for the remainder of the year, zircon production for the full year would likely reach only 170 000 t.

Iluka has withdrawn its production guidance for the financial year, given the uncertainty in the market.

While all of its operations have remained unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic so far, Iluka noted that its Sierra Rutile project could be affected as the country has closed its borders, impacting the ability to maintain planned levels of production-focused expatriates. Supply chain continuity was being managed, with emerging risks including potential interruptions to fuel and critical spares delivered in Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, mining trials at the Balranald project, in New South Wales, and Sembehun, in Sierra Leone, have been delayed as a result of travel restrictions, with Iluka telling shareholders that plans to reschedule the trials were well advanced.

Zircon, rutile and synthetic rutile production for the March quarter reached 153 000 t, down 16% from the previous quarter, with zircon production reaching 50 100 t, down 27.2% on the previous quarter, rutile production down 11.6% to 49 300 t, and synthetic rutile production own 5.5% to 53 200 t.

Zircon sales for the March quarter were down 72% on the previous quarter, to 24 900 to, while rutile sales were down 37.6% to 47 200 t and synthetic rutile sales were down 23.6% to 51 000 t.

Mineral sands revenue for the March quarter was down 41.2% on the previous quarter, to A$232.2-million.


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