THE PORT of Broome has hosted its first export shipment of product from Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project in the West Kimberley.

Approximately 5100 tonnes of Kimberley Mineral Sands’ bagged zircon product was loaded onto a chartered multipurpose vessel, bound for the company’s global offtake partners.

KMS chief operating officer Michael Rose said the first shipment from Broome signified the start of local exports from the Kimberley port and highlighted the company’s commitment to the region.

“These are the first mineral sands products to depart from Broome, and we’ve worked closely with the Kimberley Ports Authority and local shipping agencies to facilitate this historic shipment,” he said.

KMS has also recently commenced transporting rotainers of product into Broome for storage prior to the first bulk export in the near future.

The first shipment of product from Thunderbird took place from Port Hedland in early January. Approximately 300 tonnes of non-magnetic concentrate (zircon) in bulka bags, sold to three of KMS’ global offtake partners, was packed in 40 TEU and loaded on the ANL PAX service vessel Blue Nine for Singapore and then China.

The Thunderbird project has one of the largest high-grade mineral sands deposits discovered in the last 30 years, according to KMS. Operations began at the site in October 2023, with the project expected to produce a suite of mineral sands concentrate products

KMS is a 50:50 joint venture between Sheffield Resources and Chinese investment company Yansteel.

Zircon is used primarily in the everyday manufacture of ceramics, including tiles, bathroom sanitaryware and kitchen crockery. It is also used in a range of production processes in refractories and foundry casting, as well as catalytic fuel converters, and air and water purification systems.