General Mining and Galaxy Resources have announced the start of lithium concentrate production at their Mt Cattlin joint venture project near Ravensthorpe, Western Australia.
Both mining and processing operations have started at the mine and an initial programme for five weeks is set to recover and stockpile spodumene and tantalum concentrates from the fines circuit.
The commissioning of crusher and HMS circuit will take place during the June quarter of 2016.
Under the terms of a $25m agreement between the two companies, General Mining has qualified for a 14% equity interest in the project and 50% of its operating profit.
General Mining executive chairman Michael Fotios said: "The recommencement of production at Mt Cattlin represents another major achievement by General Mining in not only meeting its obligations to Galaxy Resources, but also in becoming a reliable, independent and growing supplier of spodumene concentrate to the global lithium market."
Ore from Mt Cattlin is already mined and available for processing and company's further focus on restart through to May 2016 will be on the processing circuit.
As part of this work, the primary and secondary feed preparation circuits, thickener, fine and course circuit screens, mica removal screens will be commissioned in addition to the tantalum spirals and tables, as well as the fines reflux classifiers and filter belt.
Following the commencement of production, mining of blasted ore in the Dowling Pit has also started and fines material will be recovered from the TSF for processing in the fines circuit during the quarter.
Later on, initial plant feed will be sourced from the existing crushed fine ore stockpile next to the plant.
A second optimisation phase is expected to continue through the second half of 2016 in a bid to improve yields to a targeted 70%-75%, based off the ongoing 800 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) throughput rate.
First delivery of concentrate is expected during July/August 2016.