The story of gold mining at Macraes has a rich history back to 1862 when gold fever struck Deepdell Creek in New Zealand’s South Island. The discovery of alluvial gold by local prospector James Crombie sparked a series of gold rushes which quickly led to the population of Macraes swelling to 600 in the 1870s.
The OceanaGold chapter in the mine’s story began in 1990. Thirty-two years later, the company’s operations have expanded to the North Island’s Waihi, the Philippines, and South Carolina in the US.
Macraes is New Zealand’s largest active gold mine, both on the surface and underground. Since OceanaGold’s involvement, the mine has produced more than five million ounces of gold, employed more than 3,000 people and contributed a vital $8.5 billion to the New Zealand economy.
Macraes General Manager Mike Fischer says OceanaGold is a modern miner planning for the future.
“We are proudly ingrained in the Otago region’s past and present,’’ Mr Fischer says. “But there are challenges ahead and we are preparing for them.
“We are actively working towards our target of a 30% reduction in Carbon emissions by 2030, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with New Zealand Government targets.’’
Macraes’ electricity is now generated from 100 per cent renewable sources and the operation is actively working towards decarbonising its fleet as a key part of the OceanaGold strategy to net zero.
“We have a clear action plan to help reach our 2030 goal,’’ Mr Fischer says.
“The company has 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.”
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 will be the first operation in New Zealand to own and operate one of these machines. The benefits of the ‘electric shovel’ include operational cost reduction and a reduction in carbon emissions.
The mine is also 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 also working with our diverse communities as extractive operations expand, and we continue to attract, train and retain a skilled specialist workforce in a competitive global market,” Mr Fischer says.
“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.
“We are currently mining both on the surface and underground. In 2023, open pit ore will continue to be sourced from Deepdell, and waste stripping will commence in earnest at Innes Mills. 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.”
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