PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Lithium miner Galaxy Resources has reported a drop in production during the December quarter, as the miner reduced mining rates at its Mt Cattlin operation, in Western Australia, in an effort to conserve mineral resource until market conditions improved.
Lithium concentrate production during the three months to December reached 43 222 t, down from the 50 014 t produced in the previous quarter, while cash cost per tonne increased from $385/t to $406/t.
Despite the fall in quarterly production, Galaxy reported a record full-year lithium concentrate production of 191 569 t, which was at the upper end of the guidance of between 183 000 t and 193 000 t, and up 22% on the previous year.
During the December quarter, 29 778 t of lithium concentrate was sold, which was just below the guidance of between 30 000 t and 45 000 oz, with 14 778 t of the sold concentrate shipped during the quarter, while the remaining concentrate will be shipped in the first quarter of this year.
Mining at the Mt Cattlin operation is expected to be scaled back to about 60% of nameplate capacity during 2020, as Galaxy looked to prioritise value over volume and to generate free cash flows while preserving the resource life and maintaining balance sheet capacity to advance its development portfolio.
Drill and blast is scheduled to start in February, with mining operations to restart in March, while crushing and processing operations would also start in February.
Galaxy noted that the stockpiled contaminated ore will be co-treated through the process plant, through the implementation of the front-end optical sorters, with some 40% of the throughput expected to be sourced from the contaminated ore stockpiles in 2020.
For the first quarter of 2020, Galaxy is targeting the production of between 14 000 t and 20 000 t of concentrate, following the restart of operations.