We Are Not Mining Metal – We Are Mining Sand

Interview with Valentina Bowyer, Base Titanium Public Relations Officer, on technical questions.

Good afternoon. We are Nice View Reporters, my name is Yusuf, this is Mohammed, and Abubakar.

Nice to meet you.

Can we have an interview with you?

Of course you can.

Who is the head of Base Titanium and what is the structure of the company?

Base Titanium is a subsidiary. So, if you take parents and children, we would be the first child and the parent company is Base Resources. Base Resources has two people in charge of it, they are based in Australia. They have a board that manages the running of their company. At Base Titanium, we have three general managers, and then we have a board of directors above them, and they all have to report to the people in Australia. Then we have a second company which is Base Toliara which has just started, they have the same structure as Base Titanium.

How many people are employed at Base Titanium?

Permanent staff are over 700. We have a total of about 1,100,  including outsourced contractors.

How do you make Titanium?

We do not make titanium. We are not mining a metal, we are mineral sands operation. We take out three minerals that have titanium oxide in them: Rutile, Ilmenite and Zircon. Rutile and Ilmenite are sort of a dark colour, nearly black, and Zircon is a golden coloured sand.

How is Titanium mined?

At the beginning we used a mining method called dozer mining units which is the use of bulldozers, but currently we use hydraulic mining units which is basically using water as a method. It is all open pit.

How do you transport the minerals?

We transport the minerals in two separate ways. One way is in the back of contracted lorries so they can then go to our Likoni port facility and are transported outside of Kenya with bulk shipping. The second way to transport minerals is inside bags going to containers. The containers then go to Mombasa port, and those containers go on to other ships and are taken to different parts of the world.

How many trucks do you have?

We as Base Titanium don’t owe a single transport truck. We have a contract with a truck company.

What do you use to pack Titanium into the trucks?

The minerals that are transported with bulk shipping don’t need any sort of bags, the minerals go right into the back of the truck, just as they would go right into the belly of the ship. For those that are going into containers, they are going into bags, those bags go into containers, and the container go into the trucks.

Why do you cover the trucks at the top during transportation?

Because we don’t want to loose any minerals on the way.

How many kilometers do you cover from Base Titanium to the port in Likoni?

It is 25 km from Base Titanium to Ukunda, and then it is roughly 30 km from Ukunda to the port facility, so it is 50-55 km.

What are the challenges you have faced so far?

Challenges of transportation are if we have any sort of delays on the road to the port facility which delays how many tons of minerals we can get to the port every day. Other challenges will vary from how the communities will respond to us, and maybe we can have a few glitches in our plant. It’s different challenges every day, just like running a normal business.

How have you worked on the challenges?

Day by day. If it is traffic for example, the challenge is completely different to if it is a big downpour. We can’t change the weather, can we? If it is within our control, we try and handle it the best we can.

How long do you mine to get the minerals?

We have been mining in Kwale since 2013 and our current mining lease will end in 2022. We have made applications to extend our current mining license to 2024 as well as to mine in other parts of Kwale County and Kenya.

Thank you very much for the interview.

You are welcome.