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Northern Star happy with expansion plans
The West Australian

Northern Star Resources is no longer on the acquisition trail, managing director Bill Beament says. He said the company was happy with expansion prospects on its existing tenement base.

The cashed-up producer, which announced another solid set of quarterly production results yesterday, had been touted as a potential player in the consolidation of WA's gold industry. But Mr Beament told _WestBusiness _ he expected regional exploration success to drive the company's growth.

"We've got our hands full internally and I think with the explorations side, once people start seeing that in our business, it's going to drive good value," he said.

Northern Star shares closed 3� higher at $1.21, hitting a high of $1.255, after the company said it had produced 20,515 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $604/oz in the December quarter, up from 18,715oz at a cash cost of $685/oz the previous period. Total operating costs rose from $890 to $909/oz because of increased development work. That was despite a mill stoppage at its Paulsens gold mine for a $7 million upgrade.

No changes are expected to Northern Star's 2013 production guidance of 100,000 to 115,000oz at cash costs of $610 to $690/oz. Mr Beament said he expected to be Paulsens at the better end of that scale. "People take our operational predictability for granted now," Mr Beament said "(Our) key drivers are exploration, near mine and regional, and our Ashburton project."

If new resource estimates at Ashburton, due in the next two months, include a half million ounce mining reserve, the company would be in a position to push the button on mining studies, Mr Beament said. With $4 million spent on exploration in the December quarter, Northern Star expected to be in a strong position to start talking up its regional exploration program.