Galaxy Resources’ Mount Cattlin spodumene project is two kilometres north of the town of Ravensthorpe in WA. At Mt Cattlin, Galaxy mines pregmatite ore and processes it on site to produce a spodumene concentrate and a tantalum by-product. At full capacity, ore can be processed at a rate of one million tonnes per annum, with a lithium oxide concentrate production of 137,000tpa and 56,000 pounds per annum of contained tantalum.
The Mount Cattlin mine operations include open-pit mining of a flat lying pegmatite ore body. The flat lying nature of the ore body allows mining to proceed at a constant strip ratio once the ore is uncovered. Mining is carried out using excavator and truck operations, delivering to a conventional crushing and hydraulic modeling system gravity recovery circuit. Contract mining is used for grade control drilling and earthmoving operations, including drilling, blasting, load, haul and ancillary work, for the open-cut mining operation. The pit design encompasses existing measured and indicated resources and has been defined as the Dowling pit.
The processing plant at Mount Cattlin is located to the west of the Dowling pit. The plant consists of a four-stage crushing circuit producing a six-millimetre product at a treatment rate of 1Mtpa. The crushing plant provides feed to a fine ore bin and this fine ore bin feeds the concentrator on a continuous 24-hour-per-day basis. The final spodumene concentrate is stacked on a pad adjacent to the plant area, drained and prepared for trucking to port, and shipmen to Zhangjiangang in China.
In the first quarter of 2011, Galaxy exported its first shipment of spodumene to the Zhangjiangang Port. About 6500t of spodumene was loaded and exported from the Bunbury Port in WA. Galaxy has earmarked the spodumene product for its Jiangsu lithium carbonate plant in China's Jiangsu province, which is nearing the commissioning phase. The plant will eventually produce a total of 17,000tpa of battery grade lithium carbonate.
For its tantalum product, Galaxy has a five-year sales agreement with Global Advanced Metals, under which it delivered the first shipment of tantalum concentrate from Mount Cattlin in March 2011. The shipment of 28t had an average grade of 2.3 per cent tantalum pentoxide.
Galaxy Resources holds a series of tenements surrounding and including the mining lease M74/12, which contains the majority of the spodumene resource identified to date and which hosts the Mount Cattlin mine. In a resource estimate issued in March 2011, Mount Cattlin's total contained lithium oxide resource was 197,000t, the measured and indicated resource was 13.8Mt, and overall ore resource tonnes totalled 18.18 million, giving the Mount Cattlin mine a potential mine life of 18 years, including inferred resources.