Hillgrove Resources has produced the first copper concentrate from its Kanmantoo mine in Adelaide, South Australia.

The processing facility’s commissioning and the start of copper production were completed within the targeted time frame of the first quarter of 2024.

This achievement positions Hillgrove 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 project, located around 55km 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, yielding nearly 137,000 tonnes of copper and 55,000oz of gold.

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

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With the processing plant recommissioned in early 2024, Hillgrove has transitioned to a producer with cash flow generation.

The company anticipates further growth in copper production as additional work areas are established and the underground development progresses over the coming months.

A significant cost reduction in power use has been achieved with the establishment of mains power to the underground operation, dropping from approximately $0.40 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to around $0.13/kWh, a reduction of around 65%.

Moreover, the connection to the South Australian power grid, of which more than 70% supplied by renewable energy sources, is set to substantially lower the carbon footprint of the Kanmantoo operation.

Hillgrove managing director and Lachlan Wallace said: “First copper production from the Kanmantoo underground operation, and the transition to cash flow generation, is a watershed moment for the company.

“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.”

“Completing this transition from explorer to producer makes Hillgrove Resources one of only a few copper producers on the ASX, and doing so in eight months highlights the company’s capability to deliver on stated objectives.”