Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

Our Approach

Northern Star recognises the importance of maintaining responsible stewardship of our natural environment to minimise any adverse impacts from our operations and to enable valuable ecosystems to be protected.  

The long term sustainability of our business is underpinned by sound environmental practices, continuous improvement, ongoing research and monitoring, and education for our workforce.

Our ESS Committee and Board provide oversight on the management practices, capability and effectiveness of our environmental practices.

Environmental Management System

Northern Star values the diverse environments in which we operate, and we are committed to ongoing demonstrated performance improvements in our stewardship of these important ecosystems.

Our Environmental Policy, Global Standards and Environmental Management System (EMS) provide a framework to facilitate our management and protection of the natural resources we are proud to be given access to. Targeted management plans are developed to provide additional guidance on site and region-specific requirements. These documents and processes are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure proactive and continual improvement, and adaptation to new issues or risks that arise.

Northern Star’s environmental management system is based on the Principals of ISO14001:2015. We recently engaged an independent third-party consultant to conduct a full assessment of our corporate and site EMS in terms of alignment and application. The assessment also incorporated a gap analysis against the ISO14001:2015 Standard to ensure our EMS is aligned to the Standard’s requirements.

This allows us to better understand areas for continuous improvement in our systems, procedures and processes by:

Our operations all operate under relevant government approvals, including Mining Proposals, Mine Permit (Alaska), Water Licences,  and Operating Licences. All operations also have in place approved Closure Plans and set aside financial provisions for implementing these plans at the end of a mine’s life.  We conduct our exploration activities in accordance with our tenement conditions and, where needed, Plans of Work.

Our environmental management capability is complemented by our corporate and site-based environmental professionals.

Climate Change

Northern Star’s continued alignment with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) assists us to understand and build resilience in relation to the physical and transitional risks posed by climate change. As part of our risk mitigation strategy, Northern Star is focused on:

  • Assessing and reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission footprint;
  • Assessing the physical risks of climate change on our operations, including potential water stress; and
  • Strengthening our climate change governance by reviewing our climate change related risks and ensuring control measures are incorporated into our business practices.

Northern Star’s Position on Climate Change

  • We accept the science of climate change as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • We are committed to the Paris Agreement and a net zero carbon future, on a 1.5°C pathway

  • We acknowledge the invitation made to the private sector by the United Nations to scale up efforts and support actions to reduce emissions and/or build resilience and decrease vulnerability to adverse effects of climate change.

  • We understand the importance of understanding and adapting to climate change related risks.

  • We understand the importance of understanding and adapting to climate change related risks.

Decarbonisation Strategy

Northern Star is committed to achieving our 2030 Emissions Reduction Targets of 35% reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 Emissions on the way to achieving Net Zero operational Emissions by 2050. We have made steady progress:

  • We have formulated and engaged with investors on our decarbonisation strategy;
  • Continued to align with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) by;
  • Commenced work on Emissions Reduction projects;
  • Improved our Scope 3 accounting;
  • Considered climate change risks and opportunities in our operations’ risk registers; and
  • Deepened our understanding and assessment of the financial quantitative analysis of material physical and transition risks and opportunities identified in our TCFD reporting.

Our FY22 remuneration framework reflected our commitment to reducing our absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon Emissions by focusing on the introduction of projects which will have the effect of sustained annualised absolute Emissions Reductions year on year. This objective has continued to be reflected in our FY23 remuneration framework.

Our planned pathway to 2030

A continued shift to renewables is critical to  achieving our 2030 targets and will remain an ongoing focus beyond 2030, as we turn to electrification in replacing our mobile fleet and also using renewable energy to achieve our 2050 Net Zero Ambition. Further replacement of purchased and self-generated power supplies with renewables must be done in a way that reduces costs and maintains security of supply. In turn, lower power costs will result in lower operational expenditure, longer asset life and more sustainable operations.

For more information, please refer to the Climate Change section within Northern Star’s FY22 Sustainability Report.

Northern Star’s planned pathways to achieve 35% Emissions Reduction by 2030

Current Carbon Footprint

In FY22, our total Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG  Emissions increased from 1,133,906 t CO2-e in FY21 to 1,190,053 t CO2-e. This increase was due to an increase in Scope 1 Emissions. These were mostly attributed to an increase in diesel consumption associated with increased production, often from deeper sources, and a smaller portion to on-site electricity production. During the same period, emissions intensity (total emissions generated per ounce of gold sold) has increased from 0.7 t CO2-e/oz to 0.8 t CO2-e/oz due to the increased depth at which we are recovering material.

Further information on our emissions and energy metrics are available in our Performance Data Tables - 2022


Water Criticality

Access to water is a fundamental human right.  Water is also critical to our operations. The majority of our sites exist in areas with high baseline water stress, and we are committed to using and managing this valuable resource sustainably to ensure shared users and the environment are not adversely impacted. Our Water Management Global Standard and site-specific Water Management Plans further strengthen this commitment by detailing key practices and processes for managing water use. 

Comprehensive water balances are also utilised across our operations to manage site specific water resources and ensure our site Environmental and Operational teams have clear oversight of water abstraction, recycling, discharge and consumption. We consistently look for strategies to improve efficiencies and reduce water consumption across our operations, in consultation with our stakeholders and other shared water users. 

Net water consumption per operational centre (ML)

Total water withdrawals have slightly increased in FY22 from FY21 due to increased production. Water intensity has remained steady, however, across the business. Nevertheless, we consistently look for strategies to improve efficiencies and reduce water consumption across our operations, in consultation with our stakeholders and other shared water users.   Key water uses across our operations are processing and beneficiation purposes, as well as dust suppression. The expanded Thunderbox mill, which is due to be commissioned in Q2 FY23, includes an additional 18m diameter tailings thickener. The additional thickener will greatly increase water efficiency within the mill, allowing for up to 80% of water within the tailings slurry to be recovered and recycled in the mill. Additional thickening capacity greatly increases water efficiencies. The potential for additional thickening capacity will be considered for all prospective mill expansions across the business.

Net water consumption per operational centre (ML)

Freshwater consumption per operational centre (ML)

Freshwater consumption per operational centre (ML)