Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX: NST) held its AGM in Perth today.
Northern Star is the largest gold producer listed on the ASX. Its production centres are Kalgoorlie and Yandal in Western Australia and Pogo in Alaska, US.
Ahead of the AGM, the company has released chairman Michael Chaney’s speech and the slides managing director Stuart Tonkin will talk to.
In his speech, Mr Chaney says:
“After what had been a very challenging year in 2022 with skills shortages exacerbated by increased costs and the COVID-19 pandemic, we returned to a more normal operating environment in the 2022/23 year. The skills- shortage situation moderated but costs remained high for all resources companies and that continues to be the case in the current year.
“In spite of the challenges, Northern Star managed to finish the 2023 year within guidance on production and within revised cost guidance. Cash earnings rose 16 per cent to A$1.2 billion and dividends per share increased 23 per cent to 26.5 cents, reflecting the group’s very strong cash generation. This gratifying result was achieved through the great dedication of our entire workforce and, on behalf of the board, I thank all of them for their efforts.
“The company completed the year with a very strong balance sheet – with net cash of A$362 million. In late August 2022 we announced a share buy-back of up to A$300 million, of which A$169 million has been completed to date. The board considers that this has been a very efficient way of deploying excess capital and reflects our strong focus on achieving superior shareholder returns.
“As described in the annual report, we were pleased to achieve three investment-grade credit ratings during the year from Moody’s, S&P and Fitch; and in April we issued US$600 million of ten-year senior guaranteed notes at an interest rate of 6.125 per cent per annum.
“I think that Northern Star’s outperformance in recent times has continued to reflect the recognition that the company has many attractive features: high-quality assets which generate strong cash flows, with realistic growth opportunities and long mine lives; a strong balance sheet; skilled operational and entrepreneurial management and a highly skilled workforce.
“With regard to growth, two important milestones were achieved during the year. The mill expansion at Thunderbox was completed and the plant commenced ramping up to its full 6Mtpa capacity. In June, the board approved the final investment decision on the expansion of the Fimiston processing plant, which will see the milling capacity increase from 13Mtpa to 27Mtpa by FY27, with throughput expected to reach nameplate capacity from FY29. This A$1.5 billion investment will strengthen our portfolio, lower costs and materially increase our free cash flow.
“The challenge for us is to make the most of the opportunities we have – to execute well and achieve the ambitious goals we have set.
“Importantly, those goals include commitments regarding emissions reductions and social investment, as detailed in our annual and sustainability reports.”