Hillgrove has hit a milestone with the delivery of the first load of high-grade underground Kanmantoo ore to the run-of-mine stockpile.

This ore was recovered from the ventilation drive which is currently being advanced by the Komatsu MC51 continuous mining machine.

While full-scale underground mining has yet to begin, Hillgrove Resources’ (ASX:HGO) managing director Lachlan Wallace said the recovered ore represented a symbolic milestone that celebrated the “excellent work” undertaken by the Kanmantoo team in taking underground mining from concept to first ore in three years.

“More high-grade material will be excavated and stockpiled as we edge closer to a final investment decision,” he added.

The MC51 continuous miner had recently completed the portal for the primary decline while mining contractor PYBAR has started work to extend the decline and establish underground drilling platforms using traditional drill and blast practices.

Underground mining is the way forward

While Kanmnatoo produced 137,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate from a series of open pits between 2011 and 2020, the decision was made to investigate underground mining after the company noted that all of the mined lodes were very steeply dipping and had continued beyond the base of the pits.

Exploration to date has supported Hillgrove’s move with recent drilling returning results such as 36.5m grading 1.76% copper from 367.7m downhole and 15.3m at 2.15% copper from 471m within a broader 97m zone grading 0.69% copper.

This is enough for the company to consider its initial Stage 1 plan of producing 36,000tpa of copper and 10,000oz of gold during the first three years as being conservative.

This article was developed in collaboration with Hillgrove Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.