Kanmantoo copper mine operator Hillgrove Resources releases half-yearly results, says future looks bright

Bowels of the earth: The giant pit at the Kanmantoo copper mine. Photo: Hillgrove Resources.
Bowels of the earth: The giant pit at the Kanmantoo copper mine. Photo: Hillgrove Resources.

Mining at Kanmantoo is due to finish a year from now, but operators Hillgrove Resources hope that year will be profitable enough to allow it to move on to other projects nearby.

The company's half-yearly results, released last Thursday, painted a positive picture of the state of the mine.

Gone were the financial woes of previous years, as miners were currently digging up the good stuff: the purest, highest-grade copper ore, made accessible by the completion of a cut-back in the mine's main pit.

Because the mine's milling machinery was able to process the high-grade ore first, the company was able to make more money, sooner.

In the first six months of this year, Hillgrove produced almost 10,800 tonnes of copper – with a value of almost $9000 per tonne – and more than 3800 ounces of gold, both figures dramatically greater than in the same period last year.

It made a profit of $13.9 million over the six-month period.

In a statement, the company said it planned to use its cash to pay debts, reward shareholders and – most importantly for the local workforce – explore three major projects which could keep it busy after mining ceased in mid-2019 and processing followed sometime in 2020.

Surveying of the Kanmantoo mine site, where mining could continue underground, has been completed.

Drilling is scheduled for next month at a site called Kanappa, near Sanderston, which Hillgrove hopes to develop into a new copper mine.

A shortlist of bidders interested in turning the pit at Kanmantoo into a pumped hydroelectric storage facility will be selected within months.

Chief executive officer Steven McClare said a turnaround was underway.

"Our growth trajectory continues to build and is strongly supported by these results, driving our momentum into the second half of 2018," he said.

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