KIMBERLEY Mineral Sands has despatched its first bulk shipment of zircon concentrates from the Thunderbird Project in the West Kimberley.

Approximately 10,000 tonnes of zircon left the port of Broome at the weekend, after being loaded by Rotainer on Swire Projects’ MPP Pacific Fortune and destined for KMS’s international offtake partners.

Chief operating officer Michael Rose said the landmark moment marked a significant achievement for Thunderbird and was the culmination of many years of hard work, planning and investment: “Thanks to the support of our joint venture partners, the local community, government and investors, we celebrated the inaugural export of bulk mineral sands from Broome.”

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.

Subsequently, approximately 5,100 tonnes of bagged zircon product was loaded onto a chartered multipurpose vessel at Broome at the end of January.

Mr Rose said the company was looking forward to further contributing to the local and West Australian
economy for many years to come, cementing Kimberley Mineral Sands’ position as a key player in the global mineral sands market.

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. It is estimated that Thunderbird will produce 6.5% of global zircon supply and 3.5% of global ilmenite over the 36 year life of the mine.

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