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South African unrest prompts Mineral Commodities' exit from Xolobeni mineral sands project

Ongoingviolence and threats in South Africa has forced ASX-listed to pull outof the Xolobenimineral sands project.

MineralCommodities said July 18 that it now plans to divest its 56% stake inTransworld Energy and Resources(SA) (Pty) Ltd., the company that owns the project, to BlackEconomic Empowerment partner, Keysha Investments 178 Pty. Ltd.

"Thecompany has accepted that attempts to facilitate peaceful and safe site accessby independent environmental consultants to adequately assess the possibleenvironmental impacts of the Xolobeni project continues to cause undue tensionsand conflict, something that the company has openly tried to avoid,"Mineral Commodities said.

Thecompany placed the completion of its environmental impact assessment on hold inApril and continued with a strategic review of the project.

MineralCommodities said that in light of the continued violence and threats, thefuture viability of the Xolobeni project should be managed by South Africanstakeholders and organizations.

Thecompany did not reveal the specifics of the deal, saying only that it hassigned a memorandum of understanding with Keysha Investments and furtherdetails will be released once a definitive agreement has been signed.

Themove is not a complete exit from South Africa, with Mineral Commodities continuingto operate its Tormin mineral sands mine.

Separately,the company's South African subsidiary, Mineral Sands Resources (SA) Pty. Ltd., has completedthe installation and commissioning of the US$4.5 million garnet separationplant, or the GSP, at the Tormin mine.

Theinstallation of the GSP combined with the earlier installed tailings scavengerplants is expected to increase zircon/rutile concentrate production by about25% and ilmenite production by about 180%.