Northern Star ready for WA open borders

Northern Star Resources has taken lessons from its North American operations in managing workforce disruptions expected in Western Australia as border restrictions lift next month.  The major gold miner’s Pogo operation in Alaska was dealing with more than 100 cases of COVID-19 to end 2020 and still continued to meet its production target of 210,000 ounces of gold.

One year later, the Western Australian border is expected to open to the rest of Australia on February 5, with fears this will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases and related isolation periods.  In Northern Star’s December quarter report, managing director Stuart Tonkin said the company was well prepared to deal with the forecast disruptions.

“We remain on track to meet our FY22 guidance, which incorporates the current WA border closure and associated labour and cost impacts,” Tonkin said.

“Our experience at Pogo in Alaska has provided examples of the disruption we may face in WA and the mitigating actions required to reduce operational impact.”

These measures have previously been stated as simple strong hygiene practices and various other protocols.

The company is on track to produce between 1.55 million and 1.65 million ounces of gold for the 2022 financial year, led by its Kalgoorlie operations.  Kalgoorlie produced 244,915 ounces for the December quarter while the Yandal operations, further north in Western Australia, produced 102,163 ounces.

CREDIT – Australian Mining

Northern Star boosts Kalgoorlie ramp up

Northern Star Resources is increasing open pit mining at the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) operations after delivering a 72 million tonne per annum production rate during the September quarter.  KCGM is part of Northern Star’s Kalgoorlie production centre, which also includes the Carosue Dam and Kalgoorlie Operations.  Northern Star also increased underground mined tonnes at KCGM by 17 per cent.

Northern Star recorded higher costs in the September quarter after the Pogo operations in Alaska suffered 24 days downtime due to tie-in and commissioning works to upgrade the processing plant’s throughout capacity from one million to 1.3 million tonnes per annum.

“We seized the chance to complete other major works, including replacing the primary conveyor belt that transports ore from underground to the processing plant,” Northern Star chief executive officer Stuart Tonkin said.

“This resulted in 24 days total downtime, which reduced throughput and gold production, in turn increasing costs per ounce.  This work is now finished and we expect to see a significant benefit for both production and costs from the December quarter onwards.”

“With production, costs and earnings planned to improve as the 2022 financial year progresses, we are very well positioned to continue to invest capital into those projects which generate the strongest returns.”

New Solar Energy Plant a money saver & reduces emissions

Northern Star Resources is toasting a “win-win” with the recent commissioning of a solar energy project at its Carosue Dam operations, 120kms north east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.  The project, delivered by Nomadic Energy, has seen the start-up of a 3.3MW re-deployable solar farm at the goldmine, expected to offset about 3,548 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The installation adds to an existing 1MW solar farm commissioned at the site in January last year, with a further 2MW of solar capacity earmarked for early next year.   Carosue Dam General Manager Rob Williamson said the initiative was saving the goldminer cash while reducing the operation’s greenhouse gas emissions. “So its a win-win for the company” he said.

Nomadic Energy Technical Director Simon James said the company was looking forward to expanding the project next year.  “We are happy to be playing a key part in the WA Government’s goal of net zero scope 1-3 green house gas emissions by 2050” Mr James said.

Nomadic Energy was the recipient of the State Government’s inaugural Clean Energy Future Fund grant program announced in January, which contributed $1 million to the project.

Northern Star to focus on employee education in 2022

Northern Star has pledged its commitment to advancing its employees, announcing several development and education initiatives for the 2022 financial year.  As part of its 2021 annual report, the gold exploration company unveiled pathways to achieve improved internal training frameworks, expanding its mental health first aid program as well as additional profiling, coaching, networking and leadership activities.

Northern Star will collaborate with Kalgoorlie Central TAFE to enhance its training frameworks in the 2022 financial year, ensuring the company is aligned with the Australian Qualifications and Training Framework (AQTF).  Cultivating its emerging crop of miners, Northern Star is also committed to developing the capabilities of its senior leaders.

The Dare to Lead program will continue to grow, with leadership development to be facilitated across all its sites through online modules and one-on-one coaching.  As Northern Star continues to uphold its core values, the annual culture surveys will be expanded going forward.

The program will continue to expand and ensures Northern Star’s supervisors and management are equipped through the 12-hour program to provide on-the-ground, early intervention support and referral to their colleagues who are experiencing mental health challenges.