Hillgrove Resources starts producing copper in South Australia

Copper concentrate production through the flotation circuit. (Image courtesy of Hillgrove Resources.)

Hillgrove Resources (ASX: HGO) has kicked off production at its Kanmantoo copper mine in South Australia, after successfully commissioning the processing facility.

The company said the milestone positions it as one of the few pure-play copper producers on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), with first revenues from copper concentrate sales expected this week.

The Kanmantoo underground mine, located around 55km (34m) from Adelaide, has been a site of substantial copper and gold production in the past. From 2010 to 2020, Hillgrove Resources operated a series of open pits at the site, which yielded nearly 137,000 tonnes of copper and 55,000 ounces of gold.

The company began exploring the potential for an underground operation in 2020, which led to the development of a single decline towards the base of one of the pits in mid-2023.

“First production (…) and the transition to cash flow generation, is a watershed moment for the company,” CEO Lachlan Wallace, said in the statement. “Over the next few months, the mine output and copper production are expected to ramp up as the planned additional work areas are established underground.”

The mine is now fully connected to the South Australian power grid, which is supplied by more than 70% renewable energy generation. This considerably reduces Kanmantoo’s carbon footprint, the company said.

Hillgrove believes there is a “considerable opportunity” to grow both the resource and mine life, based on recent drilling results. Exploration targets at the project this year sit at 60 million to 100 million tonnes at 0.9% to 1.2% copper and 0.1 g/t to 0.2 g/t gold, it said.

To leverage the miner’s position as a copper producer into the future, Hillgrove is actively seeking to grow both the mine life and annual production through exploration.

Shares in the company jumped after the announcement closing 1.32% higher at A$0.077 on Tuesday. This left Hillgrove with a market capitalization of A$139.86 million ($90m).