Sierra Rutile's lease in Sierra Leone is the world’s largest known deposit of natural rutile, and has been mined since the early 1960s
The merger of Sierra Rutile and Iluka will ensure the Sierra Rutile operations in Sierra Leone will be realised to their fullest potential.

The merger between Sierra Rutile Limited and Iluka Resources was finalised on 7 December 2016. The companies said in a statement that the merger represents an exciting phase of development for Sierra Rutile, a leading, multi-mine, mineral sands company and for ASX-listed Iluka.

Sierra Rutile’s strong market position and growth opportunities were recognised by Iluka’s MD and CEO Tom O’Leary who says: “Sierra Rutile is an operation within Sierra Leone that has a long and proud history; it is a major employer within the country and plays a major role in both national and regional economies. The resilience and growth of the company is testament to the dedication and capabilities of its employees.

“The combination of the experience and skills of Sierra Rutile employees and Iluka’s operational and technical experience gained across multiple ore bodies and processing facilities over many years, will enhance the operational performance of Sierra Rutile.”

Tom O’Leary also thanked John Sisay, CEO and executive director of Sierra Rutile, who will vacate his role and assist with the transition: “I recognise the role of John Sisay. He has had a formative influence on the development of the operation since 2001, including the company’s continued operation and community aid through the Ebola crisis, record rutile production in 2015 and the successful commissioning of the Gangama Dry Mine in May 2016.

“Following the completion of the merger, John has resigned from Sierra Rutile and Iluka has appointed Rob Hattingh as CEO of the company. We are appreciative of John’s preparedness to assist with the transition and start of the integration process.”

Rob Hattingh, the new CEO added that Iluka and Sierra Rutile will work closely together to continue to strengthen the company’s position as a leading global rutile producer. “One of my key areas of focus will be on ensuring the continuity of operations and building positive, mutually beneficial relationships with the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone and its main agencies, and with regional and community representatives and other key bodies within the country.”

Iluka expects to invest approximately $60 million over the next two years to expand on recent improvements to the Sierra Rutile operation.

The company also plans to progress detailed feasibility studies for a number of mine development and expansions options that would see a significant increase in rutile output. Expansion decisions will be dependent on the outcome of feasibility studies and market conditions, with consideration to other options within the Iluka portfolio.