July 11, 2011 / 7:55 AM / in 6 years

Australia firm says Kenya titanium project starts Sept

* Says financing process almost complete

* Project to cost $170 million

By Mark Denge

NAIROBI, July 11 (Reuters) - Australia’s Base Resources Ltd said on Monday it expects to start mining titanium in Kenya in September after completing a financing deal for the project.

The project south of the east Africa nation’s port city of Mombasa has been delayed by demonstrations by environmental groups, disputes with farmers over compensation for land and drawn-out talks with the government.

It is expected to produce 330,000 tonnes of ilmenite a year, about 10 percent of the world’s supply, another 80,000 tonnes of rutile per year, which represents 14 percent of global output, and a further 40,000 tonnes of zircon.

“The planned completion of financing activities by the end of August 2011 will see the commencement of construction at Kwale in September 2011 and first production expected in the third quarter of 2013,” Base Resources said in a statement.

The miner said it had made good progress at securing formal credit approvals for a $170 million syndicated project finance facility.

“The originally proposed $150 million facility has now been augmented with a $20 million cost overrun component,” the firm said.

“This facility, combined with an equity capital raising to be undertaken once formal credit approval is received, will provide the funding required for the development of the Kwale Project.”

Base Resources said a banking syndicate had completed due diligence and was now going through the credit approval process.

The Australian firm in May increased its ore reserve estimates for its Kenyan titanium project by 20 percent after the conclusion of a feasibility study.

The miner said it now projects 140.6 million tonnes of viable ore reserves at Kwale.

Titanium is an important pigment for industrial, domestic and artistic applications. Titanium is a choice material for joint replacement and tooth implants, and body piercing. (Editing by George Obulutsa) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/) (Editing by Jason Neely)

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