Hillgrove: Round three

News Analysis




Hillgrove: Round three

  • Nils Backeberg

Junior explorer Larvotto Resources to acquire the Hillgrove gold-antimony mine from Red River Resources.

ASX-listed Larvotto Resources focuses its exploration activities on copper, gold, cobalt, PGMs and lithium in Australia and New Zealand. The acquisition of Hillgrove expands the company’s gold potential and adds antimony to its portfolio.

The Hillgrove mine in Australia is a historical mine with workings dating back to the 1880s for its vein- and breccia-hosted gold mineralisation, with by-product antimony and tungsten. The mine’s peak operation was for a short period after restarting in 2013, feeding into United States Antimony Corporation’s Mexican supply chain under a supply agreement, but the mine was put back into care and maintenance in 2015/16 when antimony prices declined to less than US$6,000/t.

Red River Resources acquired the deposit in 2019 when prices were once again back below US$6,000/t but with gold prices then on the rise. The company started processing stockpiles for gold that year with plans to restart underground mining operations in 2021, while exploration drilling was ongoing. However, drilling programmes were halted in September 2022 and operations were put back on care and maintenance.

Stibnite, the main antimony mineral, is commonly associated with lode gold deposits and as with most new antimony projects, gold is the primary focus and gaining renewed exploration attention with prices remaining mostly over US$1,800/oz since 2020. The antimony market is currently facing limited supply that has supported prices above the US$10,000/t level since August 2021.

Project Blue data shows that even with more than 20kt of contained gold-by-product antimony coming from Polyus in Russia, sporadically the largest antimony producer in the world, the market is barely shifting into balance for 2023. Our forecasts show that new primary supply of antimony will be required to help flame retardant demand recover, on top of which solar applications are adding new demand growth for antimony units to enter the market.