Barrick, NovaGold closer to Donlin mine decision

Donlin Gold project, Alaska, being developed by Novagold, which recently joined EY’s Canadian Mining Index. (Image courtesy of Novagold Presentation, Nov. 2020.)

Joint venture partners Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) and NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG) have published the first results of their 24,000-meter drilling program for their Donlin gold project in Southwest Alaska, which will likely provide the final data needed for an optimized mine plan at the 39-million-ounce gold asset. 

The primary objective of the 2021 drill program is to complete the necessary work to validate and increase confidence in recent geologic modeling concepts at Dolin. 

Having completed 18 drill holes, plus additional partial results for another 11 holes, the partners have detected significant new high-grade drill hole intercepts that hint of potential feeder zones for the larger system. 

Barrick and Novagold are simultaneously making headway on obtaining the final state permits needed to develop an operation that matches the world-class deposit 

“The 2021 drill program has been enormously rewarding — allowing us to improve our knowledge of the geology and mineralization in the ACMA and Lewis deposits which in turn will provide the information required to proceed with a new feasibility study,” Greg Lang, Novagold’s President and CEO, said in the statement

After this year’s drilling season, Barrick and Novagold expect to be able to turn their attention towards a feasibility study for the proposed mine. The companies are simultaneously making headway on obtaining the final state permits needed to develop an operation. 

The pending and final state authorization includes water permits and a right of way agreement for the 482km (300-mile) pipeline that will deliver natural gas to the Donlin mine. 

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the US Army Corps Engineers and Bureau of Land Management have already granted Barrick and Novagold the federal permits needed to develop the mine in the second largest gold-producing state in the US. 

According to the partners, the Donlin deposit hosts one of the largest and highest-grade undeveloped open-pit gold endowments in the world, with an estimated 39 million ounces of gold grading 2.24 grams per tonne in the measured and indicated resource categories.