General Mining Corp. and Galaxy Resources are working toward a restart of production at the Mt Cattlin lithium mine near Ravensthorpe, Western Australia. General Mining is project operator and is working to earn a 50% interest in the project under an $A25-million earn-in agreement announced on June 9 and formalized on September 9.

The Mt Cattlin mine has been on care and maintenance since July 2012. At full capacity, the concentrator can process 1 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of spodumene ore and produce 137,000 mt/y of lithium oxide concentrate, also containing 56,000 lb/y of byproduct tantalum as Ta2O5. Test work is nearing completion on upgraded lithium recovery and mica extraction circuits. Refurbishment work on the existing plant will begin in October, with construction of new modules to follow soon thereafter.

Planning for resource extension drilling is in progress following inquiries from major buyers of lithium oxide concentrate as to the possibility of expanding Mt Cattlin production capacity.

Beyond the immediate focus on production of lithium and byproduct tantalum in concentrate, General Mining is exploring ways to further monetize the Mt Cattlin resource via the separation of mica, feldspar and silica products.

The open-pit Mt Cattlin mining operation is based on a flat-lying pegmatite orebody. Mining is conducted using conventional excavator and truck operations, delivering to a conventional crushing and heavy media separation recovery circuit.