There was good news for the junior mineral sands players in the annual profit report from the mineral sands king of the ASX, Iluka.
The report confirmed Iluka had enjoyed a 41% increase to $US1,351/t in its weighted average zircon price for 2018 while rutile pricing was 21% higher at $US952/t.
Prices are currently higher than last year’s averages, with Iluka lifting its zircon reference price to $US1,580/t from October 1 last year for six months. Iluka said its customers had swallowed it with “positive” feedback, if that were possible.
Iluka has also secured price increases ranging from 8% to 11% for rutile/synthetic rutile. The rises are for all volumes contracted in the first half 2019.
Just as important was Iluka’s read on the market outlook for 2019. It said it expects the market for zircon to remain balanced. For high-grade titanium feedstocks, the expectation is for things to remain “tight.”
All that is good news for the juniors in the minerals sands space, where the trickledown effect is starting to take hold.
That has been reflected in the recent share price performance of newbie producer Image Resources (IMA). Its share price has motored from 11c to 18c since the start of the year thanks to the dream commissioning of its zircon-rich Boonanarring project in WA’s North Perth Basin.
Image is now a $172m company, which is no surprise given its recent (calendar) 2019 guidance for project EBITDA (revenue from the sale of its heavy mineral concentrates less project operating costs) from Boonanarring of $40-$50 million.