Mining company Kenmare Resources has reported pre-tax profits of $38.8m for the six months to the end of June.

This is a sharp improvement on the the loss of $14.2m reported the same time last year.

The company said its gross profit for the six month period jumped by 218% to $55m from $17.3m the same time last year.

Revenues rose 95% to $109m from $56m from the sale of 321,500 tonnes of ilmenite and zircon.

The company said the improved performance was mainly due to better market conditions and a move towards market-based contracts.

Kenmare also said that production in the second half of the year has improved and it is expected to show a major improvement on the first half of the year.

Production in the first six months of the year had been hit of a number of factors, most notably working a challenging part of the ore body. The company said it has taken measures to reduce the impact of similar ore body issues.

During the six month period the company successfully raised $60m for its phase two expansion plans, which will increase production capacity at its Moma Mine in Mozambique by 50%.

The company mines ilmenite which is mostly used to make titanium dioxide - a pigment used in paints, plastics, paper, fabrics and inks. The company also produces rutile and zircon, which are used to make titanium pigment by the chemicals industry.

''The fundamentals of the Moma Mine's business remains strong in terms of the positive market outlook for our products, the large resource base and position as a low cost producer,'' commented the company's chief executive Michael Carvill.

He pointed out that ilmenite prices have increased more than threefold over the past 18 months due to tight supply and demand factors, while zircon prices are more than double than those of a year and a half ago.

''While the near-term global economic environment remains uncertain, continued industrialisation, and the ensuing urbanisation taking place in emerging economies, are expected to support strong demand for products that consume titanium feedstocks and zircon,'' he added.