The average revenue per tonne stood at $250 a year earlier.

Contracted sales

The multinational says it has locked in even higher zircon prices for contracted sales ending March, adding that further price rallies could be curtailed by the emergence of the mineral’s substitutes.

Demand for zircon has in recent months been driven by tight supply which has spilled over into this year, Base said, adding that sales enquiries have exceeded its supply capacity.

“While potential exists for further price growth during the coming quarters, emerging concerns from zircon producers over the potential for substitution or thrifting of zircon may begin to restrain the extent and/or frequency of any such increases,” the multinational said.

Base, which plans to embark on a second phase of mining at the Kwale mine, has also moved to expand its global operations by agreeing to acquire an 85 per cent stake in Madagascar’s Toliara Sands for $75 million (Sh7.7 billion).

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