Ahead of their participation at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), we interviewed John Landmark, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs (Australia) at Kirkland Lake Gold on the topic of Green Tech.
Kirkland Lake Gold is focused on delivering superior value for its shareholders and cultivating a position within the mining industry as a sustainable leading gold producer. It is a growing gold mining company, targeting production of 950,000 - 1,000,000 ounces of gold for 2019 from mines in Canada and Australia. Kirkland Lake Gold’s solid base of quality assets is complemented by district scale exploration potential, supported by a strong financial position with extensive management and operational expertise. The production profile of the company is anchored by two high-grade, low-cost operations, the Macassa Mine located in Northeastern Ontario, and the Fosterville Mine located in the state of Victoria, Australia. Kirkland Lake Gold’s solid base of quality assets is complemented by district scale exploration potential, supported by a strong financial position with extensive management and operational expertise.
Greenwashing’ is one of the biggest threats to the credibility of the resources sector, so how is Kirkland Lake Gold working to maintain and enhance its credibility?
Greenwashing is a threat, and it stems from companies and the general public not being fully aware of what is green and how to define green. Greenwashing is where companies overstate or provide inaccurate information about their products/impacts/sustainable practices. Therefore, as with any industry, where a few companies are found to be guilty of greenwashing, the entire industry is labelled with the same brush. Therefore, by KLG sticking to facts only and not elaborating extensively on our sustainability achievements, we aim to ensure our credibility is linked to true data.
Every resource asset has their own material issue that may not be material to another, but to the general public or ESG rating agency, they are looking for tick boxes to be filled which fosters an environment where resource companies feel like they need to address these tick boxes leaving companies to dilute their sustainability efforts on non-material issues or embellish on them. Kirkland Lake Gold has steered clear of this by sticking to the facts. We know what issues are material and the areas we need to focus on that is important to our communities and the environment around our sites. We are putting more effort in communicating these stories and efforts and avoid trying to be a generalist. We try to stick to our data tables found in our sustainability reports and focus on the things that matter.
Another area of greenwashing has been in the space of net-zero by 2050. Many companies have put forward statements on reaching this target with no plans or pathways to get there. Kirkland Lake Gold is building a ground up model to understand the greenhouse gas from each operating equipment to have a dynamic model that can help build a pathway that is real and can be defended. To that effect, Kirkland Lake Gold has seen no interim target (for 2030) put forward yet as we are ensuring that the interim target is built on science and operational reality. In the eyes of investors, this makes us look behind other companies, but we believe we are doing it right and want to do the homework before communicating any such 2030 interim target.
There is a lot of talk about the potential for the green economy. Where is green technology and renewable energy being employed today, and how is it creating value for investors?
The obvious green technology is the battery electric trucks that are being deployed at Kirkland Lake Gold, particularly the Macassa Mine. This is creating value by lowering our dependency on fossil fuel and ability to mine deeper with less ventilation requirements. Renewable energy is an area that Kirkland Lake Gold is putting recent efforts on, but partnerships with the local grid and ensuring reliability has been the primary focus of effort when deploying renewable energy. Having a “token” windmill or solar panel looks great in a photo-op but doesn’t address the sustainable operation and use of such renewable energy. This goes back to green-washing, Kirkland Lake Gold isn’t putting up a token renewable energy project to greenwash.
What are some key future growth areas investors should pay attention to and why?
To us this is our longer-term investment in the technology and innovation area that includes aspects of the green economy with EVs, and higher efficiencies of areas of our operations, hence reduced consumption.
Do you see electric and hydrogen as competing or complimentary vehicle technologies?
We see them as complimentary vehicle technologies. As an industry we need as many green technologies as possible. Depending on the mining operations size, location and mining technique (open pit or UG), certain technologies will be more suitable than others and therefore having as many viable options would result in greater use of the new vehicle technologies and hence a greener economy. However it’s crucial both electric and hydrogen vehicles are powered by a clean grid.
What are the most important infrastructure projects needed to speed up the ‘greening’ of the resources industry?
Power Utility companies are the biggest hurdle to greening our industry. Resource companies can only do so much in reducing their footprint, but clean and affordable energy is the biggest hurdle which lies outside of the hands of the resource company that needs to be cleaner. Quebec is a good example where most resource companies have among the lowest greenhouse gas in the industry since their grid is almost exclusively hydropower.
Can you describe an initiative or project you are involved with that will ‘green’ your operations?
In Victoria, it has been encouraging to see more renewables coming online into the grid mix. Until that fully evolves, we have been exploring partnerships for renewable power. Fosterville also minimized the water draw from the environment and utilizes recycled municipal water to run our operations. In Canada, our Ontario based projects are moving towards electrification. Ontario’s grid is clean and moving towards battery electric truck and trolley assist are ways the site can reduce our greenhouse gases. We are working with our utility providers to increase the supply in our transmission lines to gear up for this electrification movement. The operations are also looking to increase recycling and reduce what ends up in landfill. All our sites maintain our air, noise and water discharges well within the guidelines provided to ensure a healthy community. We also have particular emphasis on rehabilitation and progressive rehabilitation as we operate to minimize the surface disturbance during operation and during closure.
We are also trialling an EV loader at FGM in the next year and these kinds of trials with new green vehicle technologies will continue in the next few years. This will ensure that most suitable technology that suits the sites needs are being explored.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kirkland Lake Gold has always followed our core principle that has been set out by our CEO, which is, “Operate the site in such a manner that other communities ask that we operate in their backyard”. As sustainability metrics, ESG priorities, new buzz words, and greenwashing are generally what sways peoples focuses and priorities, Kirkland Lake Gold has maintained the same vision since it’s inception. This allows us to stay the course in a manner that is operating in harmony with our neighbors and communities; not follow trends that keep altering visions.
Kirkland Lake Gold are the Victorian Gold Sponsor at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) taking place 31 January to 2 February, online and in-person at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
Hear from the following Kirkland Lake Gold representatives in the conference program:
- Tony Makuch, President and Chief Executive Officer in a keynote interview
- Felicia Binks, Director Environment and Government Relations, Australia in a panel discussion on ‘How to Operationalise the SDGs’
- Susan Mills, Processing Manager, Fosterville in a panel discussion on ‘Latest Minerals Processing and Tailings Management Solutions to Help Industry’
- Tim Davis, Director of Technical Services in a panel discussion on ‘Agile Technologies that Support the Connectivity and Accessibility to Mining Operations’