Confident Tonkin ready for WA open borders

super pit, fire, Gold mine

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.

Tonkin said this was well in line with the Western Australian targets and would underpin the continued health of its workforce.

“We made further positive progress during the quarter to improve the safety performance across our three production centres, including the physical and mental well-being of our people particularly in this COVID-19 environment,” Tonkin said.


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