A mature operation with stable production of a high-quality lithium concentrate
Since the recommencement of production in late 2016, the Mt Cattlin spodumene project (“Mt Cattlin”) has continued to be a reliable, low-cost producer of high-quality lithium concentrate. This wholly owned project is located two kilometres north of the town of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia.
Conventional mining and processing techniques are used for Mt Cattlin with open-pit mining of a relatively flat-lying pegmatite ore body. Mining is carried out using excavator and truck operations, delivering ore to a crushing and dense medium separation (“DMS”) gravity recovery circuit.
Contractors are used for grade control drilling and earthmoving operations including drilling, blasting, and load and haul.
The Mt Cattlin operation produces a lithium concentrate (spodumene) product that is trucked to Esperance Port for export to an Asian customer base.
As at 31 December 2020, Mt Cattlin had a Mineral Resource of 12.0Mt at 1.3% LiO and an Ore Reserve of 8.0 Mt @ 1.1% LiO. For further information on Mt Cattlin’s Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve, click here
A track record of operational success & delivering high-quality products to meet customer requirements
Galaxy moderated operational settings in 2020 to ~50-55% of nameplate capacity to adapt to soft conditions in the lithium market. In line with this market driven strategy, Galaxy prioritised the processing of low-grade stockpiled ore and successfully operated the process plant in campaign mode.
Mining activities focused on mining ore from the 2SE pit and pre-stripping waste in the 2NE pit as it is the main ore source in 2021.During the year, 1,086,364 wet metric tonnes (“wmt”) of ore was processed at a head grade of 1.1% Li2O.
As part of Galaxy’s strategy to control unit costs, front-end optical ore sorters (“ore sorters”) were commissioned in the March quarter to deliver value from its low-grade stockpiled ore. The ore sorters are designed to detect and reject the basalt content contained in the stockpiled ore before presenting it to the plant. For the full year, the circuit contributed a total of 217,044 wmt of feed to the plant, which was 20% of total throughput.
Galaxy achieved production of 108,658 dmt of lithium concentrate at a 5.95% Li2O final product grade. Production volumes for FY2020 exceeded the original guidance range of 90,000 – 105,000 dmt and final product grade represents a marginal increase compared to FY2019, reinforcing Galaxy’s position in the market as a reliable producer of high-quality lithium concentrate.
Due to improved customer demand at the end of the year, Galaxy shipped a record 75,366 dmt of spodumene concentrate during the December quarter averaging 5.8% Li2O. In aggregate, annual shipments of 150,630 dmt represents a 14% increase from the prior year.
In preparation for the forecast increase in lithium demand, spodumene converters sought to secure long term feedstock to meet their expansions in production capacity. A three year extension from January 2023 was executed with major customer, Yahua International Investment and Development Co., Ltd, for a minimum of 120,000 dmt per annum. Additionally, a three-year offtake agreement was executed with a new customer, Chengxin Lithium Group Co. Ltd, commencing in January 2021 for 60,000 dmt per annum.
In early 2021, operations at Mt Cattlin successfully ramped backup to full rate in response to improving prices, low inventory and strong demand from customers. Galaxy is targeting annual production of 185,000-200,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate and expects recovery, costs and efficiency gains in operating at full rate.
Galaxy is experiencing solid demand for its spodumene product as significant growth in global EV sales strengthens lithium chemicals demand and utilisation rates of spodumene converters. Improved pricing is both significant and evident across the value chain due to supply side tightness coinciding with improving demand and reducing inventory levels.