PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The South Australian government has awarded ASX-listed Hillgrove Resources a A$2-million grant to trial new underground mining technology developed by Komatsu.
The Komatsu MC51 will be used to develop the Kavanagh portal and around 500 m underground decline at the Kanmantoo mine in South Australia. The trial will focus on demonstrating the commercial viability of the machine and trial new materials handling and ground support processes.
“The trial at Kanmantoo is an important collaboration between the state government, Komatsu and Hillgrove to facilitate the commercialisation of continuous mining technology which has the potential to revolutionise underground mine development by making underground operations safer and more productive, whilst taking a significant step towards zero emission mining,” said Hillgrove CEO and MD Lachlan Wallace.
“The development of an underground decline and drill platforms represents an exciting milestone for the Kanmantoo underground which ultimately brings forward the potential restart of copper production and further reduces what is already a relatively low-cost mine development.”
Hillgrove noted that the successful deployment of commercial machines in the future had the potential to remove blasting from mining development, improving safety and community outcomes, as well as reducing blast-related operational delays.
In addition, the increased accuracy of mechanical cutting over traditional drill and blast techniques reduces rework and wastage, and has the potential to change industry’s approach to mining processes and designs. As a fully electric powered machine, the Komatsu MC51 reduces the carbon footprint of mining development and is a key step towards zero emission mining.
“This equipment could extract high value zones of economic copper ore more quickly, which is a key part of our plan to increase economic growth. This has attracted widespread interest from industry, which will observe the trial first-hand. I’m optimistic this trial will help develop ways of mining underground more safely, quickly and sustainably. All that would mean more copper, which means more jobs, more growth and more royalties back to taxpayers,” said Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.