Donlin Gold wraps 2022 with high grades
North of 60 Mining News – January 20, 2023
Last updated 1/26/2023 at 9:08am
Barrick, Novagold now considering updated feasibility study for world-class gold project.
To round out a large and highly-successful 2022 program at Donlin Gold, project partners Novagold Resources Inc. and Barrick Gold Corp. reported additional high-grade gold intercepts in the final batch of assays from last year's drilling at the world-class gold mine project in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Southwest Alaska.
Being advanced toward a production decision by Donlin Gold LLC – a joint venture owned equally by Novagold and Barrick – this enormous mine project hosts 504.81 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 2.09 grams per metric ton (33.9 million oz) gold.
A feasibility study completed in 2011 detailed plans for a mine at Donlin that would produce more than 1 million oz of gold annually over an initial 25 years of mining.
Toward the goal of updating this more than decade-old feasibility study, the Donlin Gold partners invested roughly $64 million into a 2022 program that included 42,334 meters of drilling, the largest program carried out at this extraordinary project in more than 15 years.
Many of the 141 holes drilled last year at Donlin cut zones of gold mineralization with grades far above the resource average. The final batch of assays from the 42,331-meter drill program was no exception.
Highlights from the final 44 holes include:
• 17.2 meters averaging 11.11 g/t gold from a depth of 902.5 meters in hole DC22-2130.
• 21.75 meters averaging 7.12 g/t gold from a depth of 48.5 meters in hole DC22-2168.
• 29.31 meters averaging 6.01 g/t gold from a depth of 168.5 meters in hole DC22-2177.
• 17.27 meters averaging 8.92 g/t gold from a depth of 41.3 meters in hole DC22-2179.
• 24.27 meters averaging 7.56 g/t gold from a depth of 62.5 meters in hole DC22-2183.
As impressive as these results are, none would rank in the top five Donlin Gold intercepts for 2022. Here are highlights from 2022 drill assays previously released by the Donlin Gold partners:
• 52.27 meters averaging 14.63 g/t gold from a depth of 232.95 meters in hole DC22-2040.
• 19.74 meters averaging 34.17 g/t gold from a depth of 162.2 meters in hole DC22-2063.
• 60.96 meters averaging 12.35 g/t gold from a depth of 236.2 meters in hole DC22-2063.
• 42.28 meters averaging 30.68 g/t gold from a depth of 117.5 meters in hole DC22-2068.
• 48.96 meters averaging 20.61 g/t gold from a depth of 150.1 meters in hole DC22-2077.
"From the earliest to the very last results, the assay labs returned some of the best intercepts since the project's inception - and indeed among open-pit gold projects," said Novagold Resources President and CEO Greg Lang.
Advancing Donlin Gold
With the incredible 2022 assay results providing the partners with an increased appreciation of the geology, the Donlin Gold team is finishing up its work on updating the resource model and completing trade-off studies - the outcome of this endeavor is expected to advance Donlin Gold up the value chain and lead to an updated feasibility study decision for the project.
"As a successful 2022 drill program comes to a close, we are now well positioned to begin our 2023 work, which will consist of reviewing a series of key trade-off studies, assessing mining scenarios, and continuing with permitting and regulatory engagement, along with our community partners," said Barrick Gold President and CEO Mark Bristow.
To accomplish this work, a budget of US$34 million, to be split equally between Novagold and Barrick, has been approved for 2023.
In addition to advancing engineering activities, geologic modelling and interpretation work, the 2023 budget will go toward permitting, fieldwork associated with the Alaska Dam Safety certificates, environmental studies, as well as community relations and government affairs activities.
The Donlin Gold partnership said this work will continue an ongoing tradition of safety, environmental stewardship, engineering excellence, and active community engagement.
"Our collective dedication to the highest standards of safety, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship is why the 2022 drilling was completed ahead of schedule but also without any lost-time incidents," said Donlin Gold General Manager Dan Graham.
While Donlin Gold is already federally permitted, the project partners understand that permitting a mining project in Alaska is a substantial undertaking that takes several years to complete.
"As this is the norm in the United States, we have always prepared and organized ourselves for potential challenges to the federal and state permitting processes," the partners penned in a statement.
Calista Corp., the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation that owns the land that hosts the world-class deposit, has been working with Donlin Gold on outreach within the state and in Washington D.C. to highlight the thoroughness of the project's permitting processes, as well as the considerable benefits that the project would deliver to all Native Alaskans.