Speaker Interview: Felicia Binks, Environment and Community Manager, Kirkland Lake Gold
Austmine caught up with Felicia Binks, Environment and Community Manager, Kirkland Lake Gold ahead of our Gold Panel Smart Mining Networking Event on 27 February. Felicia provided some of her thoughts on sustainability and environmental challenges, the resurgence of the Victorian gold sector and more.
Fosterville: 2020 and Beyond
It is well documented that Fosterville has been a shining light of the Australian mining industry. With 2019 being such a successful year for Fosterville, the team plans to ensure its continued success.
Several projects are planned to ensure they are maximising output and investing in infrastructure for sustained growth.
“The current ventilation system upgrade is scheduled to be finished in the first half of 2020; but there are many upcoming projects including a new mine water treatment plant, new technology and more.”
In addition to the above projects, electric vehicles are on the agenda for Fosterville, with a successful trial ongoing at the mine and in Kirkland Lake’s Canadian operations.
To build on their great success, the Fosterville team are also looking at increasing exploration efforts.
"Whilst our mine life is currently over five years, that is without any exploration finds right now and we do plan to continue to explore the surrounding region. So, exploration will be another major area for us in 2020.”
The Victorian gold industry is amidst a resurgence that could unlock the mineral potential of the region.
“A lot of the opportunities and challenges stem from the fact that Victoria isn’t really seen as a mining state. The dense population can be seen as a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we do and how we can work well with communities.”
It is critical that this potential is harnessed and opportunities are grasped. Felicia encourages a group effort in terms of good practice and beneficial relationships to ensure the sector can be maintained and grow.
Building upon the positivity for mineral development is the current tender process for blocks of exploration land that has been released by the Victorian Government.
“Exploration has been a focus in January 2020 and we hope to build on our existing reserves. We already have a strong relationship with our local community and we are aiming for this to keep developing.”
Industry Challenges and Opportunities
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been highlighted across the industry in recent years.
As general society increasingly vocalises their concerns and there is an expectation that mining companies have a social and environmental performance.
“Good records, good CSR policies and good human rights is expected.”
“I’m lucky enough to be the manager for that department at Fosterville. Our social responsibility strategy is such a focus. Plus, we are profitable which means we can reach so many more communities and step up our partnerships into bigger contributions and leave a lasting legacy.”
Whilst ethics and community impact has been brought to the forefront, communities have gained a better understanding and are trying to hold companies more responsible.
“Different communities have different needs and want to receive information in different ways or receive different information. Companies are aware of the need to communicate more widely.”
Partnering with METS
As social responsibility is a focus for mining companies there are opportunities emerging for METS companies.
“We need to be aware of partnering with companies who have good CSR policies. The laws regarding human slavery – do our suppliers obtain products from countries who still have slavery? This is something that is importance to us.”
METS companies should also be aware of other requirements that may need to be factored in when working with Fosterville.
“In terms of technology, the advancement we require might be something that is more obvious, but what is of equal importance is the size that we will require. The scale of operation required for the mining industry can be drastically different.”
If you are interested in learning more about what is next on the agenda for Fosterville or to hear more of Felicia’s insights for the sector, then be sure to register for Austmine’s upcoming Gold Panel Smart Mining Networking Event in Melbourne on 27 February.
For more information and to register for the upcoming Austmine Smart Mining Networking Event featuring Felicia Binks, Environment and Community Manager, Kirkland Lake Gold, please click here.