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Iluka revenue jumps on higher zircon prices

Jan. 25, 2019 - Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has reported a 22% increase in revenue for 2018, as zircon prices increased by 41% on the previous year.

Iluka on Friday announced that zircon, rutile and synthetic rutile revenue reached more than A$1.24-billion in 2018, despite sales volumes being down by 7%, to 827 000 t, compared with 2017.

Full-year zircon production increased by 12%, to 349 000 t, while rutile production was down 46%, to 163 000 t and synthetic rutile production was up 4%, to 220 000 t.

The ASX-listed miner told shareholders that zircon production during the year benefitted from higher ore grades and improved recoveries at the Jacinth-Ambrosia operation, as well as additional release of zircon in concentrate.

Rutile production was negatively affected by the cessation of processing operations at the Murray Basin operation, while the Sierra Rutile operation, in Sierra Leone, also delivered a disappointing operational performance, and was impacted by strike action.

Meanwhile, Iluka has reported a maiden resource estimate of 23.4-million tonnes, at 0.95% rutile, for 0.22-million tonnes of rutile at its Pejebu deposit, in Sierra Leone.

The Pejebu deposit is located adjacent to the current mining operations in Sierra Leone, and is in addition to the current mineral resource estimate of 7.3-million tonnes of rutile, hosted in 701-million tonnes of measured, indicated and inferred resource, grading 1% rutile.

Iluka on Friday told shareholders that the company had raised the possibility of increasing the mineral resource at the Sierra Rutile operation at the time of its acquisition in 2016, noting that the success of the brownfield exploration at Pejebu was an example of this, and demonstrated the potential of the asset.

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