Plant Construction

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In August 2009 Hillgrove entered into a purchase agreement with Lennard Shelf Pty. Limited (Teck Resources Limited/Xstrata plc) to acquire the Pillara Mine’s process plant and associated equipment and buildings for the Kanmantoo Copper Mine.

The Pillara Mine, located 375km east of Broome in Western Australia, was established by Western Metals Limited in 1998 as a lead/zinc mine.  The Mine operated until 2003 and then by the Lennard Shelf Pty Limited joint venture from 2006 until it was shut down in September 2008.

The Pillara Plant purchase comprised the float plant, which included a ball mill and SAG mill, office buildings, crusher, plant spares and consumables, workshops, warehouse building, sample preparation facility, laboratory, fuel farm and product storage buildings. The purchase provided a number of advantages, which included:

  • A reduction in capital expenditure and reduced possibility of cost blow outs by utilising a second hand plant rather than buying everything new;
  • Increased certainty of meeting the 12 month construction target as not waiting for long lead time items; and
  • A number of items excess to our requirements were able to be sold, including the smaller Outotec SAG mill we had already ordered, reducing the expected capital outlay.
Abesque Engineering Limited undertook the dismantling and transport of the plant. The individual plant components were carefully itemised and numbered before being sent in batches by truck. A total of 293 truck-loads were involved – a major logistics exercise by any measure. They were then laid out at Kanmantoo ready for refurbishment if required and reassembly.

In November 2010 the final approvals were received and the 12 month construction period commenced with Abesque once again contracted to undertake the $121 million construction project through to commissioning of the plant in November 2011.

In association with the construction programme, mining activities centred on providing sufficient waste material to undertake the groundworks required for the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) embankment, the establishment of haul roads linking areas of the mine, as well as hard-stand laydown areas for the mining contractor, Exact Mining’s workshop and go-line area. Over one million bank cubic metres of material (ore and waste) were moved in the process, all requiring drilling and blasting. The construction of other infrastructure such as the administration block, stores warehouse, stockpile and cone, fuel facilities and explosive magazines were also required.

The TSF is more complex than it first appears to maintain best practice environmental guidelines, requiring a clay liner, installation of drainage networks and decant pipework, and then a High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) lining.  The first stage of the TSF was approved for use in October 2011 and will be extended according to the Mining and Rehabilitation Plan (MARP) approvals as required over the life of the mine.




Projected to operate as a ten year open-cut mine with throughput of over 3.0Mt pa, producing approximately 100,000t of concentrate, containing about 20,000t of copper metal and associated gold per annum with exploration potential for further copper-gold mineralisation.


We are mindful that we are operating in and around local landowners and communities and it is our greatest wish to see all benefit from our presence.