Kimberley Mineral Sands (KMS) has shipped the first bulk of zircon mineral sands concentrate from its Thunderbird mineral sands mine located in Western Australia.

The shipment of nearly 10,000 metric tonnes of non-magnetic concentrate left the Port of Broome onboard the MV Pacific Fortune. It also included an additional 1,100 metric tonnes of bagged non-magnetic concentrate.

Further bulk shipments of zircon, magnetic (ilmenite) concentrate, and paramagnetic (leucoxene) products at the Australian mineral sands mine are slated to be exported in the coming weeks.

Formed in 2021, Kimberley Mineral Sands is a 50-50 joint venture (JV) between Australia-based Sheffield Resources and Yansteel. The JV owns and develops the Thunderbird mineral sands project.

The first product from the Thunderbird project will be delivered to the JV’s international offtake partners.

Sheffield Resources executive chair Bruce Griffin said: “We are extremely pleased by this landmark bulk shipment achievement and the continued progress and ramp up of the Thunderbird Mine.

“We wish to thank our logistics partners and local Kimberley port authorities in securing this first bulk shipment from the Port of Broome, and we look forward to continued growth in production and product shipments throughout 2024.”

Located on the Dampier Peninsula, the Thunderbird mineral sands project will be developed in two stages. Stage 1 of the Australian project entails a total funding requirement of A$484m.

Together, stages 1 and 2 of operations at the mineral sands project are anticipated to generate 1.4mtpa of zircon and ilmenite concentrates over an estimated life of mine of 36 years.

In August 2023, Sheffield Resources started commissioning services at the Thunderbird project.