Special Report:  It’s all falling into place for near term producer Metallica Minerals (ASX:MLM), which could have two cash flow producing assets by mid next year.

Its recently announced intended merger partner — Canadian-listed Melior Resources — is on schedule to export its first shipment of ilmenite from the Goondicum mine in Queensland in the first quarter of 2019.

Ilmenite prices moving up in 2019

This is all happening as ilmenite prices increase.

In a December 10 report, London-based stockbroking firm SP Angel said ilmenite prices should be strong in 2019.

“Ilmenite prices recorded a year high of $US216/t in April this year but fell back as ilmenite processors struggled with furnace fires and other outages,” SP Angel reported.

“The resulting restriction in processor capacity is said to have tightened stock levels for pigment consumers indicating that ilmenite prices should continue to rise as processing capacity returns to higher levels.”

Ilmenite prices have risen from August lows of around $US171/t to current prices of around US$186/t, SP Angel says.

“Ongoing economic growth in the US and China as well as elsewhere is also expected to drive end-user demand growth for pigments for paints and printing where titanium (ilmenite) is used to whiten pain and create opacity.”

Goondicum ramps up

In December, Melior confirmed that commissioning of the Goondicum mine was moving quickly.

1,777 tonnes of ilmenite was produced for the month — a 271 per cent increase on the budgeted 478 tonnes.

48 tonnes of apatite was produced as Melior initially focusses on optimising the higher value ilmenite production.

Apatite production will naturally increase throughout the commissioning period, Meloir says.

In the final week of November the project successfully moved to a permanent 24-hour, 7 day per week roster.

Commissioning and ramp-up of the project is on the schedule, with ilmenite haulage to the port planned to begin in January, and the first ilmenite shipment scheduled for the first quarter of next year.


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