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 with up to a 6.0% Li2O grade that is trucked to Esperance Port for export to an Asian customer base.
As at 31 December 2019, Mt Cattlin had a Mineral Resource of 14.6Mt at 1.29% Li2O and an Ore Reserve of 8.2 Mt @ 1.29% Li2O. For further information on Mt Cattlin’s Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve, click here.
Galaxy has adopted a market-driven strategy to adapt to soft market conditions in the lithium sector. To preserve resource life and prioritise a value over volume approach, lower operational settings have been applied for FY 2020 and retains flexibility to ramp up swiftly in response to increased market demand.
A key part of this strategy is the commissioning of front-end optical sorters to upgrade low-grade stockpiled ore and control unit costs. This is expected to increase recoveries and maintain the final product grade of 6.0% Li2O while allowing mining activities to scale back.
Galaxy has established strong relationships with a diversified customer base to underpin sales volumes. Forecast production volumes for 2020, plus carried over inventory, are sufficient to meet Galaxy’s contracted sales obligations to customers.
Mt Cattlin achieved a record-breaking year in 2019 for production volumes, product quality and operating costs.
22% increase on 2018
Final Product Grade:
4% increase on 2018
10% increase on 2018
Unit operating costs:
13% decrease on 2018
Mt Cattlin produced consistently and reliably throughout FY 2019 at nameplate capacity. The average unit operating cost achieved during FY 2019 confirms that Mt Cattlin is one of the world’s lowest cost spodumene mines.
Total mined volumes for FY 2019 increased by 34% year-on-year (“yoy”) following the implementation of several initiatives focused on improving mining efficiency and effectiveness.
FY 2019 was a record-breaking year in production with total lithium concentrate produced of 191,570 dry metric tonnes (“dmt”), a 22% increase yoy. Total throughput was also consistent between FY 2019 and FY 2018.
Mt Cattlin successfully achieved an average grade of lithium sold at 5.93% Li2O in FY2019, a 3% increase yoy at the request of Galaxy’s customers. While targeting a higher grade ordinarily comes at the expense of recovery, average recovery achieved for the year was 55%, a 10% increase yoy due to other improvements from the Yield Optimisation Program.
In response to in declining market prices in FY 2019, Galaxy pursued a number of several cost reduction initiatives. The average FOB unit cash cost of lithium concentrate produced was US$391 / dmt for the year, a 13% reduction on FY 2018, reinforcing Mt Cattlin’s market position as a low-cost producer of spodumene.