Eighty-five workers finish employment at Hillgrove Resources' Kanmantoo copper mine, chairman John Gooding reflects

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

In hindsight, Hillgrove Resources' decision to re-open the Kanmantoo copper mine was not financially successful, the company's chairman says.

Eighty-five workers finished their employment at the mine yesterday, on top of another 35 who had left without being replaced in recent months.

At Hillgrove's annual general meeting, held in Adelaide on the same day, chairman John Gooding reflected with some regret on the seven-year venture.

"The overall (ore) grade has not been sufficient to realise early expectations and unfortunately a lot of shareholders who have remained with us as we grappled with this issue have seen their investment diminish over time," he said.

"This also resulted in severe cash flow tight points in 2016, which hampered expansion and exploration opportunities over the past two years.

"We as a board are just as disappointed at the impact that the lower than anticipated grade had, but would like to acknowledge the success of senior management and the Hillgrove workforce in rescuing the company from the dire circumstances of just a few years ago.

"A measure of shareholder value has been retrieved by a mix of hard work and thoughtful enterprise."

He wished all the departing employees the best of luck, and expressed hope that the experience they had gained would help them find work at other South Australian mine sites such as Olympic Dam, Carrapeteena or Prominent Hill.

He also thanked the committee of Kanmantoo and Callington residents that had provided feedback over the years, as well as chief exective officer Steve McClare, who will depart the company tomorrow.

"(Mr McClare) steered the company through some very dark days but he has inspired our employees with his work ethic and creativity and has always maintained his optimism ... and dedication," he said.

Hillgrove's focus will now turn to processing the ore already extracted at Kanmantoo, removing another 200,000 tonnes from the floor of the mine's giant pit, and paving the way for AGL to build a hydro energy storage facility there.

After that, Mr Gooding said, the prospects for more copper mining and processing in the region were good.

Rehabilitation of the Kanmantoo mine site will also follow over the next seven years.

Native vegetation has already been planted across 75 hectares.

Mr McClare will be succeeded on an interim basis by Lachlan Wallace, the mine's general manager.