Galaxy Resources expects to meet its production target of around 14,000-17,000 dry metric tonnes (dtm) of lithium concentrate for the first quarter of 2020 at its Western Australia spodumene project, Mt Cattlin, following the resumption of activities there in February.
Operations at Mt Cattlin resumed following the installation of front-end optical sorters that allow to upgrade the stockpiled ore before it is processed into lithium concentrate, the Australian lithium miner said in a statement on March 13.
The upgrading works are in line with the company’s strategy to optimize operations in current market conditions in which it has "prioritized value over volume to preserve resource life and control unit costs," it said.
Stockpiled ore will make up around 40% of the company’s throughput in 2020 at Mt Cattlin, allowing it to reduce mined volumes.
Still, Galaxy remains bullish about the global lithium demand outlook and is retaining mining and operational flexibility at its plants to increase production promptly in response to any surge in customer demand, it said.
Fastmarkets assessed the price of spodumene 5-6% Li2O min, cif China, at $470-530 per tonne on February 26. The price has trended lower over the past year - it was at $600-750 per tonne on February 27, 2019.
Galaxy Resources had shipped 33,000 dtm of lithium concentrate as of March 11 from the Esperance port in Australia, halving inventory level, it said.
Processing facilities in China are “slowly resuming activities” following the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, it added.
Neo Lithium produces battery-grade lithium at its Argentinian pilot plant
In a separate development that points to increased production and availability of lithium, Canadian junior miner Neo Lithium Corp produced its first battery-grade lithium carbonate at its pilot plant located in Fiambala, Argentina, it said last week.
The carbonate was sourced from concentrated brines.
In a statement on March 11, the lithium miner said that two different processes were tested to produce the lithium carbonate.
The first process was described in the project’s preliminary feasibility study from May 8 last year while the second requires smaller volumes of additives and therefore at a lower cost while being more “environmentally conscious” than the first process, it said.
Neo Lithium expects to release the final economic results using the second process for extracting lithium once it finalizes its definitive feasibility study.