Lithium miner Galaxy Resources (ASX: GXY) has completed a front-end optical ore sorter addition to its Mt Cattlin operations aimed at optimising the WA-based spodumene project in current market conditions.
A scheduled summer outage saw the installation and commissioning of the sorters to upgrade and process low-grade ore which has been stockpiled at the project site.
The sorters have been designed to detect and reject basalt content in the ore before it is presented to the process plant and were introduced as part of Galaxy’s strategy to prioritise “value over volume” to preserve resource life and control unit costs.
Based on prior sampling and analysis, the ore contains a basalt content of up to 24% and a pilot program last year demonstrated over 70% of this could be successfully rejected.
Stockpiled ore and mined material will be crushed and sorted into three size fractions with only coarse material presented to the new ore sorters.
Each ore sorter will detect darker basalt rock through a camera and reject it using high pressure air jets as it falls through the sorter.
The sorters will produce an upgraded ore with a basalt content of less than 3% which will then be fed to the main processing plant.
Further basalt is rejected by the ore sorters at the back end of the plant, enabling a final product grade of 6% lithium oxide.
The reduction of fine material is expected to improve performance of the dense medium separation circuit and increase overall plant recoveries.
Following the restart of operational activities last month, Galaxy announced a targeted lithium concentrate production volume for the first quarter of 2020 of between 14,000 and 17,000 dry metric tonnes.
Galaxy last week confirmed that 33,000dmt of lithium concentrate was shipped from Esperance port, indicating that processing facilities in China are slowly resuming activities since the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The shipment is in addition to a shipment of 15,000dmt sold in late 2019 but not shipped, at the discretion of the customer.
Galaxy said it would be monitoring the situation daily and is in regular contact with its customers.