Galaxy Resources is ramping up operations at a new pit at the Mt Cattlin lithium project in Western Australia without deploying additional equipment.
The company has commenced mining at the pit, Two North East (2NE), following the depletion of the Two South East Pit as planned.
With mining at 2NE continuing for 15 months, Galaxy is optimising its mine plan at the next pit, Two North West (2NW).
Drilling at 2NW was under way, with a view to complete early in the second quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, mining volume at Mt Cattlin increased from 200,000 bank cubic metres moved per month last year to 324,000 bank cubic metres per month in February.
Galaxy expects to produce 45,000-48,000 tonnes during the first quarter, with production settings moderated to 50-55 per cent of nameplate capacity.
The company observed “very strong” demand for lithium, with pricing momentum continuing and all its customers requesting for shipments in the second quarter.
Galaxy is exploring an opportunity to monetise the Mt Cattlin surface stockpiles of tailings, comprising 1.3 million tonnes of unprocessed tailings and 900,000 tonnes of future tailings, due to strong Chinese demand.
The company is also responding to the recovery in lithium demand by progressing an initial economic assessment for the $US244 million ($315 million) James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.
Galaxy anticipates a production of 330,000 tonnes a year of spodumene over James Bay’s 18-year mine life.
The news comes as Galaxy revealed a decline in both its mineral resource and ore reserve estimates at Mt Cattlin.
Its mineral resource as at 2020 year-end stands at 12 million tonnes at 1.3 per cent lithium oxide and 149 parts per million tantalum pentoxide.
The ore reserve is estimated to be eight million tonnes at 1.1 per cent lithium oxide and 139 parts per million tantalum pentoxide, a decline from mining operations and stockpile recovery.
Galaxy stated that this was in line with its strategy to moderate production output and increase the consumption of low-grade stockpiled ore for 2020.