Northern Star renews underground strategy for greener operations

The Super Pit.

Northern Star Resources is re-assessing its environmental strategy as it merges with Saracen Mineral Holdings, with renewable energy highlighted as part of the company’s future.

On the eve of the merger becoming official, Northern Star has set an action plan for 2021 and beyond to include modular, transportable power and hybrids for operations with short mine lives.

The company’s climate strategy includes a proactive effort scenario, where Northern Star would value underground mining more highly due to its lower environmental impacts.

It is also considering to leverage energy efficiencies across its business, such as the existing practice of regular operational fleet change outs.

Northern Star stated that achieving the proactive scenario would be the most challenging transition of its strategies, but was most in line with the company’s sustainability goals.

Northern Star’s second option is a passive response, focussing on increasing and maintaining the performance of its existing fleet and machinery for cost and environmental impact minimisation.

“Climate related scenarios allow Northern Star to explore and develop an understanding of how the physical and transitional risks and opportunities of climate change might plausibly impact Northern Star’s operations over time,” the company stated.

“(Northern Star) recognises that the merger with Saracen will change the company’s footprint and reflects the time required to assess the merged entity’s environmental footprint.

“As part of the process, we will consider options such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, fuel switching, supply chain engagement and offsets.”

Northern Star’s scope one and two emissions already increased during 2020 to 313,264 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent, compared with 229,005 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019.

This was due to the acquisition of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) and the inclusion of the Super Pit’s operations in its reporting.

During the 2020 calendar year, Northern Star mined 1.4 million tonnes of gold at the Kalgoorlie operations and 1.9 million tonnes at the KCGM joint venture, contributing to higher emissions due to increased electricity usage.

To counter this, Northern Star intends to test whether its business strategy is flexible enough to accommodate climate-related risks and opportunities.

“In line with the Paris Agreement, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to a lower carbon economy, Northern Star has used a 2 degree scenario,” Northern Start stated.

“(This) opportunity will be considered in greater detail during 2021 as part of assessing the outcomes of scenario analysis with a view to adapting and developing our strategy in relation to climate change.”

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