TOMRA ore sorter out of this world for Galaxy


Galaxy Resources' Mt Cattlin lithium mine.

TOMRA Mining has been engaged by Galaxy Resources to help process contaminated lithium ore at the Mt Cattlin mine in Western Australia.

Processing infrastructure at the mine previously included a two-stage crushing system followed by dense medium separation (DMS), but more was required to remove the high volumes of basalt in the mine material, as is typical with lithium mines.

Mt Cattlin general manager Keith Muller said Galaxy had been stockpiling its contaminated material since 2016 while it searched for a solution.

“For us, it’s key to mine as clean as possible, but there’s always going to be contamination, mainly associated with contact or when there are basalt intrusions into the pegmatite,” Muller said.

“In these cases, there’s still lithium present in what we are mining, but it’s heavily contaminated with basalt. We segregate that from our clean ore sources and we stockpile it to be processed at a later stage.”

TOMRA’s PRO secondary laser sorter has been a resounding success for Mt Cattlin.

Galaxy tried another ore sorting solution in 2019 but it was unable to meet the company’s standards and TOMRA was called upon.

Muller said TOMRA’s PRO secondary laser sorter had been running since late September 2021 and was performing as intended.

“The ore is screened into two size ranges: 14mm to 25mm and 25mm to 75mm, and then fed into the sorter. The sorter product is then recirculated into the crushing circuit, crushed down to a -14mm particle size and fed into the wet plant and DMS,” he said.

And while the plant has satisfied Galaxy, the miner is still pushing for greater results.

“It’s been continuous, there hasn’t been a degradation in performance,” Muller said.

“It has worked well from the start and six months in it’s still performing as well as it did with the initial acceptance testing.

“We have pushed the boundaries of the industry standard in particle size and feed rate, and we haven’t found the limit of the machine yet.”

Since the success of the initial installation, Galaxy has gone on to purchase a second machine and was equally pleased with the results.

“In terms of commissioning, I was very surprised at how quickly and easily it went, especially with the constraints on travelling. When we commissioned the TOMRA unit, we still had border closures, so everything was done remotely, and it went very smoothly without any issues,” Muller said.

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