Sierra Rutile has finished construction at its Gangama dry mine project in Sierra Leone and restarted sales of rutile to titanium customers.

The Gangama project is expected to reach the final phases of commissioning soon and will continue to progress towards the planned start of commercial production during the second quarter of this year.

Sierra Rutile has also began rutile sales again, following several years of subdued demand due to depletion of stockpiles.

The company said this development was an encouraging sign that demand for high-grade titanium feedstocks is increasing.

"Completion of the construction phase of Gangama represents a significant de-risking step as the project nears commercial production."

Sierra Rutile CEO John Sisay said: "The completion of the construction phase of Gangama represents a significant de-risking step as the project nears commercial production.

"Whilst the recommencement of sales into the titanium metal market marks the re-emergence of a key end-market for Sierra Rutile’s premium product."

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Titanium is used for applications such as aviation, automotive, medical and technology, and its production requires a high-grade, premium rutile product, Sierra Rutile said.

The company’s project involves excavation of its Gangama deposit with the help of a fleet of conventional earth moving equipment, which will deliver mineralised ore to a concentrator unit located on the mine site.

Dry mining at the Gangama deposit will provide access to resources in a shorter development time.