Business North August 2023

42 | MINING OceanaGold T T Karen Phelps OceanaGold - mining for the future “We are committed to the future. A future that will continue to provide jobs, ongoing partnerships, local regional and national investment, technological innovation and environmental sustainability.” OceanaGold has a clear action plan to help it reach its goal of supporting the New Zealand Government’s drive to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Macraes Operation general manager Mike Fischer says OceanaGold has an interim target to reduce carbon emissions per ounce of gold produced by 30 per cent by 2030 based on 2019 performance levels. “We have developed an emissions reduction strategy to provide a pathway to maintain focus and build capability in emissions management across the organisation with a focus on three of these areas: decarbonisation of mobile equipment, increased use of renewable energy and energy use/energy efficiency improvements,” he says. This year several mine truck trays have been replaced with new, lightweight, and more wear-resistant versions. Mike says that because they are 18 tonnes lighter this makes hauling more economical and efficient as each truck can carry a heavier payload. OceanaGold is also taking advantage of New Zealand’s high renewable energy supply in the national grid with 100% of Macraes electricity generated from renewable sources. To further accelerate change, OceanaGold has partnered with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) in a technology demonstration partnership. Macraes Operation will commission an electric hydraulic excavator in early 2023 and Mike says it will be the first operation in New Zealand to own and operate one of these machines. “The benefits include operational cost reduction, and a reduction in carbon emissions. The electric shovel will have an annual production of 13 to 15 million tonnes, and reduce emissions by up to 3,750 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent). A typical small family-car can produce between six and 10 tonnes of CO2 per year, so a rough estimate would be that the emissions reduction from the shovel would be the same as replacing 1400 ICE cars with EVs,” he says. Macraes has also commenced investigating renewable energy as a potential post mining land use. The company is in the advanced stages of preparing a feasibility study for a solar farm to supply electricity to the operation during daylight hours. “We are committed to the future,” says Mike. “A future that will continue to provide jobs, ongoing partnerships, local regional and national investment, technological innovation and environmental sustainability.” Macraes outlook positive With current mining occurring both on the surface and underground, OceanaGold says its Macraes Operation has the best ‘life of mine’ outlook the operation has ever had. “In 2023, open pit ore will continue to be sourced from Deepdell, and waste stripping will commence in earnest at Innes Mills, “ says general manager Mike Fischer. “We expect to have the first stope ore from Golden Point Underground in early 2023 and this will be fully ramped up to replace Frasers Underground by late 2023,” he says. Gold mining at Macraes goes back to 1862 when the first gold was found in Deepdell Creek. This was followed by a series of gold rushes, which led to the population of Macraes swelling to 600 in the 1870s. The OceanaGold story began at Macraes in 1990. Thirty-two years later, the company’s operations have expanded to Waihi, the Philippines and South Carolina. Since 1990 the Macraes mine has produced over five million ounces of gold, employed over 3000 people and contributed $8.5b to the New Zealand economy. Mike says that, like any industry, there are challenges ahead. “We are actively working towards our stated target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we are working with our diverse communities as extractive operations expand, and we continue to work hard to attract, train and retain a skilled specialist workforce in a competitive global market.”