“The mechanical cutting technology being tested at Kanmantoo has yielded some very encouraging results from a safety and quality point of view. It has also enabled us to establish the portal and initial section of the decline without any blasting which prevents any potential blast-related impacts to our neighbours,” says CEO and MD.
Hillgrove Resources Ltd (ASX:HGO) has completed the portal for the exploration decline that will be used for future underground mine access at the flagship Kanmantoo Copper-Gold Mine in South Australia, passing an important step in an underground mining technology trial.
Hillgrove is testing the Komatsu MC51 continuous miner, an electric hard rock cutting machine that can mine continuously with a single operator, for the South Australian Government.
The company has now passed the milestones for the first of two tranche payments for the $2.0 million state grant and received $800,000 in funds, with the second tranche of $1.2 million expected to be received in mid-2022.
Hillgrove is satisfied with the progress of the Komatsu trail so far, citing improved structural integrity in the backs and walls of the mine compared to traditional drill and blast methods. The company trialled spray-on liners as a faster, less expensive alternative to shotcrete, with positive results.
So far, the only downside has been a slower rate of progress than expected.
Ramping up decline development
“The mechanical cutting technology being tested at Kanmantoo has yielded some very encouraging results from a safety and quality point of view,” Hillgrove CEO and managing director Lachlan Wallace said.
“It has also enabled us to establish the portal and initial section of the decline without any blasting which prevents any potential blast-related impacts to our neighbours.
“I am excited to be continuing the trial with a second portal cut which will also double as a future ventilation drive for the underground mine.
“With the strong copper price remaining above the assumptions in last year’s Economic Assessment and project finance discussions proceeding to definitive documentation stage, we have engaged one of Australia’s most experienced underground contractors to ramp up the decline development using traditional drill and blast methods order to bring forward the potential timing of first copper production.”
Locations of portals for the Kanmantoo underground mine.
Hillgrove has engaged mining contractor PYBAR to advance the decline and establish underground drilling platforms using tried and tested drill and blast practices in order to bring forward stope definition drilling, which is on the critical path to first copper.
The first development blast is scheduled to occur this week.