Wednesday, 21 October 2020
4 ways Hillgrove Resources is Topping the Productivity Charts
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4 ways Hillgrove Resources is Topping the Productivity Charts

This article was originally published by Mining IQ and written by Jared Haube.

Not every mining operation has the budget or scope of works like the iron ore projects run by heavyweights Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and FMGL in the Pilbara region of WA. But that doesn’t mean innovation hasn’t made its mark on the smaller-scale operations across Australia.

Whilst things like automation, high-precision GPS and wireless networks are the talk of the town, there are still many mining companies focused on improving productivity with existing resources. And a select few have achieved some pretty incredible results, such as Hillgrove Resources with its Kanmantoo Copper Mine.

Located fewer than 55 km from Adelaide in South Australia, the mine site has effectively doubled its productivity in haulage truck operations, and significantly increased its plant throughput from 2.8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 3.3 Mtpa.

Ahead of Austmine 2015Hillgrove Resources CEO Greg Hall touched base with us to discuss how the mine site has realised these results. He gave a detailed run-down of the strategy, including insight into technology applications, process enhancements and equipment operation.

1.      Haulage productivity

The Kanmantoo Mine has a series of complex copper ore bodies, and the operation itself was established upon the premise of a single all-encompassing mining services contract. But we needed to focus the quality of mining on clean extraction of the copper ore and minimising dilution.

Hillgrove subsequently negotiated a change to existing mining arrangements and we took over as owner-operator in mid 2013, subsequently leasing a new mining excavation fleet (comprising up to 21 Caterpillar trucks, 2 Leibherr excavators and ancillary equipment).

An external training provider had a team of five train our mining crews with a focus on quality operating practice and the best way to operate the new excavators.

The crews initially operated between 50 and 52 bank cubic metres (BCM) per truck engine hour, but the operating environment for truck haulage was changed in a bid to increase the BCM rate.

Instead of all trucks coming back to a central parking bay at the end of every shift, they stopped in sequence and the operators were picked up by bus.

The quality of the haul roads also underwent significant improvements.

And combined with the new scheduling regime, the team raised productivity to 85 BCM per hour, with a medium term goal to exceed 110 BCM during the coming year. 

Photo to the right: Kanmantoo operation, image courtesy of Hillgrove Resources

2.      Plant capability

The mine has a process plant in which the copper ore is processed into copper concentrate, containing gold and silver.

Originally a second hand facility from a previous operation in WA, the plant was transferred to Kanmantoo, offering strong flotation capacity and a seasoned mill and crusher.

The first year of operations in 2012 was difficult though, because the crusher was undersized and designed for a smaller, higher grade mine, not the larger medium grade mine that we are. A new crusher was installed in 2013, and since that time, we’ve improved the plant’s throughput capacity and copper ore recovery.

The copper recovery improvement saw growth from 91 to 93 per cent, with the plant throughput rising from the nameplate capacity of 2.8 Mtpa up to 3.3 Mtpa.

And $500,000 was separately invested for two plant upgrades: the first was a screening circuit between the primary and secondary crushers, which verified the fine quality ore for processing in the mill.

The second part involved buying a total spare swing jaw, which has all the main bearings fitted to allow a change-out every eight to 10 months for the primary crusher (itself a jaw crusher variant).

As a result, the site team can operate the jaw crusher with more intensity and reduced downtime, effectively increasing the crushing ratio and feeding a smaller product into the mill.

We’ve also installed a multi-stream analysis unit, which takes a sample and analyses it every six minutes from different sections of the plant. The results are captured automatically and transmitted to the central mill control room interface. Whilst these are common in newer plants, this is the first time this plant has had this level of on-time control.

The unit has given us real-time sampling and assaying capability of the copper streams going through the plant. Operators are able to make adjustments as needed, instead of waiting for a longer duration sample turnaround time.

To read the full interview with Greg, where he also discusses their drill and blast operations and future-proofing, you can find it on our Austmine 2015 websiteAt Austmine 2015, Greg will be joined by mining specialists including John McGagh, Head of Innovation, Rio Tinto, Barry Fitzgerald, CEO, Roy Hill, and Dr Fred Hess, Executive General Manager, Project Development, PanAust.

You can download the brochure to see the full program or visit to know more.

Also make sure to check out the resource centre, which comprises articles, whitepapers and case studies on mining innovation. 

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