Barrick Gold Corporation and NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. are pleased to provide an update on their co-owned (50/50) Donlin Gold project (“Donlin Gold” or the “project”) and the 2020 drill program currently advancing with four drills turning at the site. All are operating within the framework of stringent safety measures, which include protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Donlin Gold drill program, which commenced in February 2020, was temporarily paused in early April due to travel restrictions and other COVID-19 prevention measures in the region. Drilling activities resumed at Donlin Gold in late May, following the reopening of certain aspects of the States’ economy by Alaska’s Governor, and after consultation with employees, contractors, and regional villages regarding safety measures.
To minimize the risk posed by COVID-19, Donlin Gold implemented a broad set of policies at the project site and the administrative office in Anchorage. Almost 60% of the drilling has been completed to date, with assays reported from approximately 10% of the planned drilling.
Of equal importance to this positive development, and consistent with our commitment to our decades-long partnership with Calista Corporation (“Calista”) and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC), Donlin Gold’s Native Corporation partners and owners of the project’s subsurface and surface rights respectively, we responded with urgently needed community support during the pandemic. This support includes food and supplies and partnering in ongoing community engagement in environmental management, safety, training, educational, health, and cultural initiatives. Involving the local communities in all aspects of the project is core to both Barrick’s and NOVAGOLD’s philosophy as illustrated by the fact that approximately 80% of Donlin Gold direct hires are Alaska Natives.
Objectives of the 2020 Drill Program
The primary objective of the 2020 drill program, the largest such campaign at Donlin Gold since 2008, is to validate recent geological and resource modeling controls developed by the owners, Barrick and NOVAGOLD. The other objective is to test potential extensions of high-grade zones, most of which would be expected to be mined early in the life of a future mine. The newly obtained data should also enhance the understanding of the mineralized zones and lead the partners to determine the next steps.
Statements by the Owners
The first set of results from this year’s drill program continue to substantiate the unique value proposition that Donlin Gold represents for both owners.
“Diligent exploration and detailed geological modeling are essential in establishing a strong foundation on which to deliver optimal value from an asset the size of Donlin,” said Mark Bristow, President and CEO of Barrick.
“These early drill results have improved our understanding of the orebody, supporting the more recent geologic modelling. They also underscore Donlin Gold’s significant potential as well as extraordinary optionality to the gold price over multiple cycles and in a mining friendly jurisdiction1,” Bristow said. “We have ensured that our operations are working as safely and responsibly as possible alongside our Native Corporation partners, Calista and TKC, providing extensive resources and support in Alaska, particularly in the remote Yukon-Kuskokwim region closest to the project.”
Greg Lang, NOVAGOLD’s President and Chief Executive Officer said, “These are great early results and I’m particularly encouraged by the high-grade mineralization encountered near surface. This is an exciting time for Donlin Gold. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Donlin Gold team, who, despite the COVID interruption, is on track to complete the drill program in the fourth quarter. Once the program is completed, the results will be incorporated in an updated geological model that should form the basis for the owners to provide information on the approach to the next steps.”
Mr. Lang added, “We are delighted that, consistent with our long-term strategy, all this activity is taking place in an environment when the gold price is setting new all-time highs and few, if any, other projects of the size and quality of Donlin Gold are in a position to be developed anywhere in the world. With key federal and state permits in hand, we believe that the timeline for this uniquely attractive project in a Top Tier1 jurisdiction is in the owners’ control.”
2020 Drill Results Highlights
• A total of 47 core holes have been drilled or are in progress (13,795 meters), as of August 4th, 2020, with assays reported from 2,246 meters of drilling
• Significant distinct high-grade intervals were intercepted in multiple areas, including good intervals near surface
• Five of the top intervals so far include (g/t = grams per tonne, m = meters):
• DC20-1871 intersected 41.91 m grading 11.61 g/t gold, starting at 30.35 m drilled depth
• DC20-1866 intersected 45.91 m grading 5.03 g/t gold, starting at 35.39 m drilled depth; 23.36 m grading 4.15 g/t gold, starting at 108.30 m drilled depth; and 30.28 m grading 4.20 g/t gold, starting at 226.53 m drilled depth
• DC20-1873 intersected 7.66 m grading 18.40 g/t gold, starting at 60.88 m drilled depth
Results from the initial drilling support continued analysis of the updated lithological model and controls of the higher grades. The initial drill assays exceed the modeled grade-thickness with higher grade observed over thinner intervals. Hole DC20-1871, highlighted above and located in the ACMA deposit, is a good example of high-grade mineralization near surface in an area of moderately dense drilling that had seen other high grade intercepts, but not of the magnitude of this drill hole. This is an area that has been designated for the early years of mine operation.
COVID-19 Response & Community Engagement
To date no employees or contractors at Donlin Gold have tested positive for COVID-19. Donlin Gold is fortunate to work with strong and dedicated community partners in Alaska and in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, who share the objective of protecting the health of Donlin Gold’s employees and contractors. Donlin Gold has implemented a wide-ranging set of policies at its office in Anchorage and at the project site this year designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:
• Testing of all employees and contractors (In-state personnel – one negative test prior to going to camp, village personnel – two negative tests upon arrival and prior to returning to their village, and out-of-state personnel – two negative tests prior to going to camp) visiting the Donlin Gold project site
• Utilizing charters to safely deliver employees to and from camp to minimize in-region travel
• Screening and social distancing measures while at camp
• More frequent sanitization practices
• Increased communication around hygiene and sanitization practices, as well as identification of symptoms
In addition, Donlin Gold worked with Calista, TKC and other key representatives in the region to respond to urgent community needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This was in addition to ongoing community engagement in environmental management, safety, training, educational, health and cultural initiatives. These included:
• Chartered food deliveries to remote middle Kuskokwim villages that are without a regular air carrier service. Many communities had been cut off from primary winter transportation when the regional airline declared bankruptcy. Every home in eight middle Kuskokwim villages closest to the project received a box of food and buckets for any homes without running water
• Established a food distribution center/food bank, to deliver supplies to residents homebound due to medical/health issues, quarantine requirements, or other reasons
• When the Donlin Gold project camp temporarily closed in early April, thousands of pounds of food were delivered to food banks and homeless shelters
• Assembled and shipped 1,400 face mask making kits to 56 Y-K villages. Coordinated with Tribal administrators to identify individuals that need masks for Elders and COVID-susceptible people
• Working with Bethel Community Services Foundation and other parties on the COVID-19 Resiliency Fund to provide support and on potential partnerships to help homeless youth
Other ongoing initiatives include:
• CleanUp GreenUp, an annual initiative that includes community participation from more than 32 villages to clean-up their outdoor environment
• Campfire Alaska Summer Program with support staff in 23 Yukon Kuskokwim communities to provide distanced activities and meal programs for youth and Elders
• Donlin Gold worked with TKC, the State of Alaska and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in an initiative to upgrade, as well as improve health and safety standards, of water and sewer services in Middle Kuskokwim area communities
• In a partnership with TKC, the Village of Crooked Creek, and the Napaimute Tribe, Donlin Gold funded and provided technical data to extend and maintain the ice road on the Kuskokwim River – greatly improving safety and access to nearby remote communities
Donlin Gold, working with its Native Corporation partners, continues to support the State of Alaska to advance other permits and certificates needed for the project. While the field work related to the issuance of the Alaska Dam Safety certificates has been temporarily paused to concentrate on the ongoing drill program, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ (ADNR) Division of Oil and Gas (DOG) is strengthening the cumulative effects analysis for the State Right-of-Way (ROW) agreement and lease authorization for the buried natural gas pipeline. Donlin Gold supported the State’s decision to complete this work and we expect that the ROW lease offer will be upheld and reissued by ADNR in approximately five months.
About the Donlin Gold Project
Donlin Gold is located in Alaska, the second largest gold-producing state in the U.S., with approximately 39 million ounces of gold grading 2.24 grams per tonne in the measured and indicated resource categories (100 percent basis), it hosts one of the largest and highest-grade undeveloped open pit gold endowments in the world. The planned pits occupy only three kilometers of an eight-kilometer mineralized belt, which itself is located on less than 5% of Donlin Gold’s land position. Current activities at Donlin Gold are focused on the drill program, optimization efforts, and community outreach.
Donlin Gold LLC is an Alaska-based company owned equally by Barrick Gold U.S. Inc. and NovaGold Resources Alaska, Inc., which are wholly owned subsidiaries of Barrick and NOVAGOLD, respectively.