Donlin Gold, a 50/50 joint venture between Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) and NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG), has released initial assay results for the 2022 drill program to support the companies’ recent modelling concepts and strategic mine planning work in Alaska.
With the largest exploration budget in more than a decade, Barrick and NovaGold are currently advancing the Donlin gold project up the value chain and are working toward a feasibility study decision. The 2022 budget is set at $60 million, split equally between the two owners.
The prime focus of their activities this year is to undertake a 34,000-metre drill program with tight-spaced grid drilling as well as in-pit and ex-pit exploration. The Donlin exploration team will then input these drilling results into the geologic modelling and interpretation work that is being used for updated resource models. In June, Donlin Gold’s board approved an additional 43 drill holes and 8,380 metres to infill one of the 20-metre grids to 10-metre spacing.
In addition to the engineering studies underway to support the mining schedules and life of mine business plans, Donlin Gold said this program will enable the company to proceed with the preparation of an updated feasibility study, subject to a formal decision.
The 2022 drilling not only expands last year’s program, but also focuses on upside prospects in the ACMA and Lewis pits where drilling so far has been limited. The new assays received have thus far yielded some outstanding intercepts, highlighted by the following: 52.27 metres grading 14.63 g/t gold, 18.65 metres grading 10.78 g/t gold, 73.98 metres grading 4.21 g/t gold, 12.10 metres grading 22.15 g/t gold and 44.58 metres grading 4.50 g/t gold.
“As expected, the drill program for 2022 continues to enhance our understanding of the ore bodies that make up the Donlin project,” Barrick’s CEO Mark Bristow said in a press release. “Also encouraging is that this year’s drilling campaign is ahead of schedule and results so far support the most recent modelling concepts as we focus on moving the project toward a feasibility study decision.”
“The 2022 drill program has been extremely exciting, not to mention rewarding. With the latest set of assays, we continue to enjoy some of the best gold intercepts in the mining industry,” stated Greg Lang, NovaGold’s president and CEO, adding that the outstanding results reported, such as the high-grade at ACMA and the deep exploration work, further “substantiate Donlin Gold’s potential.”
With approximately 39 million oz. of gold grading 2.24 g/t (541 million tonnes) in the measured and indicated mineral resource categories, the Donlin gold project hosts one of the largest and highest-grade undeveloped open-pit gold endowments in the world.
The planned pits in which the existing resources are sited occupy only 3 km of an 8 km mineralized belt, which itself is located on less than 5% of Donlin Gold’s land position. Current activities at Donlin are focused on the drill program, optimization efforts, community outreach, and advancing the remaining state permitting actions.