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Northern Star comms job

A key communications initiative in leading Australian gold miner Northern Star Resources’ (ASX: NST) A$50 million (US$38 million), 10-year investment in underground operational excellence is likely to be in place this year.
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Northern Star CEO Stuart Tonkin addresses the WA Mining Club

Staff reporter

One of the initial aims of the programme is to set up a 4G LTE network underground to improve communications, and better enable digitalisation and automation.

Speaking on the sidelines of a West Australian Mining Club lunch in Perth yesterday, CEO Stuart Tonkin said 4G trials were now underway and he hoped to have a system in place this year.

During his presentation, he said it would provide a step-change for underground mining.

"We're investing heavily in terms of future proofing," he told more than 400 people at the event.

The company flagged its investment plan at the 2017 Diggers and Dealers mining forum, saying at the time the initiative was just as important as investing in exploration, where it is spending A$45 million (US$34 million) in the current financial year.

The debt-free miner is aiming to create a "centre of excellence" in underground operations as it believes the industry is seeing a growing transition from openpit to underground mines.

The programme also includes providing apprenticeships, doing 3D seismic surveys and investigating using drones underground.

The company's progress comes as the pace of technological change across the industry is accelerating, as Rio Tinto's head of growth and innovation Stephen McIntosh told Aspermont's inaugural Future of Mining 2018 conference in Sydney last week.

Northern Star is on track to reach its targeted annual run-rate of 600,000 ounces of gold and had about A$439 million (US$332 million) in cash and equivalents at the start of this quarter.
 
Its shares, which have ranged between A$4.22-$6.97 over the past year, closed down 3c yesterday to $6.16.