What started 30 years ago on a shoe string budget is today the world’s largest and most advanced Garnet mining and processing operation located in the Mid West of Western Australia. Along the way, GMA has pioneered the wider use of this versatile abrasive into many new high-tech applications.
2013 marks three decades of quality production and here is glimpse of how it began…
All through the 1970s, exploration for heavy minerals was conducted along the coastal area, south of Port Gregory. Geologists were looking for Zircon, Ilmenite and Rutile which is found in abundance in the coastal dunes.
Just north of the small coastal settlement of Port Gregory at the mouth of the Hutt River, exploration company Target Minerals found a deposit of Garnet bearing sand. They set up a small pilot plant to separate small quantities of the Garnet mineral from the sand but there was no known market for Garnet as an abrasive other than used in the manufacture of sand paper for which an alluvial garnet is not suitable. In fact, Target’s manager recommended to the company to abandon the resource and not spend any more money as it was most unlikely that a market for the product could be found.
Mr Martin Taylor, who was engaged as geologist and metallurgist by Target, persevered and in 1981 set up a first wet processing plant in Port Gregory together with Mine Manager Ray Clarke. Most of the equipment and processes to wet separate the heavy garnet mineral from the dune sand were developed by Mr Taylor and some processing equipment like hydro-sizers were later adopted by other mineral processors in the area and Australia wide as well. The first wet plant was built on a shoestring budget but worked reasonably well and produced small quantities of GMA Garnet™ concentrate.
The establishment of the dry processing plant on its present location in Geraldton in 1983 was a significant milestone in establishing the production of GMA Garnet™ as a high quality abrasive with high mineral purity and proper quality control.
In those days, the plant was operated by a small group of employees and today, the number has steadily grown close to 100 employees operating on three shifts, seven days a week. More than one generation – father and son or entire groups of family members have worked with GMA over the years.
The plant has undergone various technical and equipment upgrades to keep up with the increasing global demand for GMA Garnet™ abrasive. In 1998, GMA commissioned the new state- of-the-art Wet Plant on the Hose mine site with a design capacity of 225,000 mt p.a. alongside a major upgrade of the Geraldton Dry Plant. Substantial investments were made in the following years to meet the growing demand for GMA Garnet™ from every corner of the world.
Today, GMA produces well over 400,000 mt of high quality GMA Garnet™ abrasives covering a wide range of applications. GMA has also made significant investments in pioneering the re-processing and recycling of used Garnet in Industrial Garnet Recycling Plants established in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
Recycling of used garnet Increases the lifespan of a non-renewable resource, reduces the impact on waste disposal sites and significantly reduces the operating costs for our global customers by extending the useful life span of our unique product.
Like it was 30 years ago, GMA is fully committed to provide ongoing investments for exploration projects, product research & development and quality assurance at every step of production, logistics and distribution to our global customers. Our commitment to provide the highest quality garnet abrasive and consistent supply to our customers has endured over the past 30 years and is guaranteed for the future.