Sheffield is focused on the development of its 50% owned Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project. Thunderbird is the largest high grade zircon reserve and is located in Western Australia. Thunderbird is owned by Kimberley Mineral Sands, a 50/50 joint venture between Sheffield and Yansteel.
Stage 1 of the project will produce 1.1 million tonnes per annum of zircon and ilmenite concentrates and is fully funded. At the Final Investment Decision (FID) in October 2022 the Stage 1 & 2 NPV (post tax 8%) was A$1.4 billion (A$695m Sheffield share) and the IRR was 26.6% over a 36 mine life. At FID the Stage 1 capital of A$379m was more than 75% fixed price or already spent with construction more than 40% complete. The construction phase will continue through 2H 2023 with commissioning in late 2023 and the first product shipment in Q1 2024.
Sheffield owns 50% of the fully funded, multi-decade Thunderbird mineral sands project in the low risk jurisdiction of Western Australia. Stage 1 of the project is under construction with limited remaining capital cost risk exposure and is less than 18 months from first production.
Stage 1 of Thunderbird is largely de-risked and there are a series of further growth options from a Stage 2 expansion of Thunderbird, with further expansion potential at Thunderbird and a series of potential mines along the 120km long historic coastline north and south of Thunderbird
Over 50% of zircon is consumed in the production of ceramics, including tiles, sanitary ware and tableware. Zircon is also used in a range of other applications including zirconium chemicals, refractories, fused zirconia, catalytic fuel converters, foundry applications as well as water and air purification applications.
Titanium minerals, including ilmenite, are mainly used to make pure white, highly light refractive and ultra-violet light absorbing, titanium dioxide (Ti02) pigment for use in paints; paper; plastics; ink; rubber; textiles; cosmetics; sun screens; leather and ceramics. Because titanium dioxide is non-toxic and biologically inert, it can be safely used in foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.
Titanium dioxide is the main use for titanium minerals representing around 90% of global demand. Other applications for titanium products include TiO2 sponge for the production of Titanium metal, and welding rod applications.