He outlined his thoughts on disruptive solutions miners should be looking to apply to the workplace for Mining Journal's Global Leadership Report.
"Most of the outcropping deposits have been found and so there will be a need for new exploration techniques, technologies and attitudes to make new discoveries at depth - this needs breakthroughs in 2D and 3D seismic techniques, structural surveys, better understanding and interpretation at depth," he said.
"Becoming truly competent in these disciplines will be genuinely disruptive for the industry because otherwise it's going to be simply too expensive to explore and make discoveries.
"That needs to happen within 10 years. We're going to continue to see electrification of mines and we have to build new mines with that in mind."
Tonkin also expected automation to improve with increasing electrification but said automation was yet to translate well to underground operations.
He believes the underground workplace will become cleaner due to automation, electrification and then non-blasting technologies, with underground deposits able to be mined on a larger scale once they overcame ventilation constraints.
"Otherwise, without structural changes leaders still need to have an eye to the ‘one percenters', the optimising and tweaking," he said.
Northern Star's focus is underground, hard rock gold mining at its assets in Australia and Alaska and it made record full-year gold sales to June 30 of 840,580 ounces.
This article was based on the answer to one of four questions Northern Star Resources CEO Stuart Tonkin was asked as part of his interview for Mining Journal's Global Leadership Report. The report focus this year was ‘The Workplace of the Future'. The research included open interviews with some 20 major mining executives and a survey of more than 500 industry professionals. The results will be released in late August.