August 20, 2018 / 8:28 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Titanium miner Kenmare's H1 profit surges on stronger Chinese demand

(Adds share price, background on results of rival company)

Aug 20 (Reuters) - Titanium minerals miner Kenmare Resources Plc said on Monday pretax profit for the first half of the year jumped nearly three-fold, as it shipped more finished products to China and other Asian markets.

The Dublin-based group, whose operations are focused in Mozambique, is seeing its fortunes improve after a commodity downturn a few years ago weakened mineral prices.

Kenmare, which mines zicron and other minerals used in paints, plastics and ceramics, said shipments of finished products climbed 10 percent to 589,200 tonnes, benefiting from stronger Chinese demand for ilmenite, an ore of titanium.

Still, Kenmare warned that ilmenite sales volumes will be lower than expected in the second half of the year due to seasonal weakness over the summer in China and new environmental regulations there.

Pretax profit rose to $28.8 million in the six months ended June 30 from $9.8 million a year earlier, while revenue surged nearly 37 percent to $140.1 million.

The upbeat results mirrored those of Kenmare’s Australian rival Iluka Resources Ltd, which last week reported a profit for the first half compared with a year-earlier loss, thanks in part to improved prices.

Iluka, also an ilmenite producer, said average zircon prices were 47 percent higher and rutile prices had risen 20 percent in the first six months of 2018.

Kenmare shares rose nearly 2 percent to 231.2 pence in early trade. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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