Donlin Gold program exceeds expectations
Partners complete 23,400m of drilling without any positive COVID-19 test; more high-grade gold than previously modeled North of 60 Mining News – October 30, 2020
Last updated 11/25/2020 at 4:12pm
Despite a two month suspension of activities and other challenges related to protecting workers and local communities from COVID-19, Donlin Gold LLC managed to exceed its planned drilling at its 39-million-ounce gold project in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Southwest Alaska.
"I'd like to congratulate the joint venture team, as well as thank our Native corporation partners, Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, on successfully completing drilling despite the enormous challenges associated with operating during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Barrick Gold President and CEO Mark Bristow.
Donlin Gold, 50-50 joint venture between Novagold Resources Inc. and Barrick Gold Corp., began mobilizing in February for the largest drill program in 12 years at its namesake project. By early April, however, this work was put on hold due to travel restrictions and other COVID-19 prevention measures.
With crews returning to camp in late May, Donlin Gold managed to complete 23,400 meters of drilling in 85 holes, which surpassed the 22,000 meters originally planned.
"As we wrap-up activities at the site for the winter, I want to thank the Donlin Gold team, that, despite the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, actually completed the drilling earlier than forecast, thereby allowing us an opportunity to drill additional holes," said Novagold Resources President and CEO Greg Lang.
What is even more impressive is this large drill program was completed without any employees or contractors at the Donlin Gold site testing positive for COVID-19.
The primary objective of this year's drill program at Donlin Gold was to validate and increase the confidence in recent geologic modeling concepts.
"A comprehensive geological understanding of any orebody is a foundational step that few companies in the gold industry do well," said Bristow. "With an orebody the size, scale, and quality of Donlin Gold it is of even greater importance in order for the project to successfully deliver maximum value for all our stakeholders."
In August, the company reported wide intercepts of near-surface high-grade gold mineralization that could provide ore during the early years of an optimized mine plan for Donlin.
Highlights from this first batch of nine holes:
• 45.9 meters averaging 5.03 grams per metric ton gold from 35.4 meters in hole DC20-1866.
• 41.9 meters averaging 11.61 g/t gold from a depth of 30.4 meters in hole DC20-1871.
• 7.7 meters averaging 18.4 g/t gold from 60.9 meters in hole DC20-1873.
Donlin Gold says results continue to exceed expectations, with higher grades observed over narrower intervals, particularly in sedimentary rocks.
"Building on the last two decades of exploration, the results continue to highlight Donlin's world-class potential," said Bristow.
Five of the top intervals identified since the results announced in August include:
• 4.2 meters averaging 80.6 g/t gold from 123.5 meters in hole DC20-1877.
• 19.8 meters averaging 11.3 g/t gold from 48.9 meters in hole DC20-1878.
• 22.1 meters averaging 4.7 g/t gold from 158.8 meters in hole DC20-1886.
• 33.9 meters averaging 6.5 g/t gold from 218.2 meters in hole DC20-1886.
• 6.9 meters averaging 43.1 g/t gold from 178.6 meters in hole DC20-1888.
"With the latest set of assay results, we continue to encounter intersections of higher grade mineralization than previously modeled," said Lang. "With the industry burning through reserves, and grades continuing to decline, great drill results with even higher than modeled grades are exciting for any mining company – and we believe that to be particularly true for Donlin Gold at this late stage of development."
The Novagold CEO said the data from this year's drilling will be incorporated into an updated model for Donlin Gold, which could be further verified with additional drilling in 2021.