Australian mining company Hillgrove Resources is set to commence the Stage 1 development of the Kanmantoo underground copper mine in South Australia.

The company’s Board of Directors has approved a positive Final Investment Decision (FID) on the Stage 1 development of the Kanmantoo underground copper mine in South Australia.

Hillgrove said that the project development is fully funded through a $38m Placement and Share Purchase Plan, without involving any debt.

The funding will provide adequate working capital to reach sustainable copper production in Stage 1 and continue exploration activities to enhance the mine life and production.

In addition, the company has signed important underground mining contracts and has appointed key employees for the underground development.

Hillgrove said that the development will create 130 new jobs in the coming six months

With the existing infrastructure in place, including a 3.6Mtpa processing plant and operational tailings storage facility, the first copper production is expected in early 2024.

Hillgrove managing director Lachlan Wallace said: “The formal decision to commence mining at Kanmantoo is an exciting milestone for the company.

“It comes on the back of completing a $38m Placement and Share Purchase Plan, which was strongly supported by existing and new shareholders, and positions the Company to commence development without any debt.

“This, in turn, de-risks the project by providing operational flexibility, and enables the mine to be developed with a focus on delivering project value, rather than a debt repayment schedule potentially influencing operational decisions.”

Kanmantoo copper mine is located near the town of Kanmantoo in South Australia.

The Stage 1 development targets two of the nine known mineral lodes on the mining lease, and is expected to deliver 43.5kt of copper in concentrate over the initial four years.

The lodes are planned to be drilled or mined as an open pit and will remain open at depth and along strike.

Anticipating a positive investment decision, the company has already commenced underground development, last month.

Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Energy and Mining, Tom Koutsantonis said: “It’s fantastic to see the Kanmantoo Copper Mine reaching Financial Investment Decision and on track to produce first copper early next year.

“Copper is arguably the most important critical mineral as the world looks to decarbonise. Mines such as this stand to help address the copper deficit while stimulating the state and local economy. The project already enjoys support from the local community, and the creation of 160 new jobs will be welcome news.”