Donlin Gold LLC owned 50:50 by Barrick Gold Corporation (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) and NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. (TSX:NG) (NYSE American: NG), is pleased to report the release of the final set of assay results from the 2022 drill program. The assay results for the final 44 drill holes and full 2022 drill program are reported in Table 2 in the Appendix.
|•||The comprehensive 141-hole, 42,331-meter (m) drill program was safely and successfully completed ahead of schedule, under budget and included multiple high-grade gold intercepts reported from the latest set of assays. These include DC22-2130 that intersected 17.20 m grading 11.11 g/t gold, with a sub-interval of 4.25 m grading 36.91 g/t gold.|
|•||The results from the 2022 drill program reconcile favorably with the resource model as well as further support the global resource estimate and recent modelling concepts.|
|•||Donlin Gold continued to work in partnership with Alaska Native landowners Calista Corporation (“Calista”) and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC) in stakeholder and government engagement in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) region, Alaska, and Washington, D.C.|
|•||Environmental and social investment focused on the Y-K region included support for important health and safety initiatives in remote communities, cultural preservation efforts, and educational programming in collaboration with school districts and other organizations.|
|•||Donlin Gold continued to advance state permitting efforts, including the renewal of air and water permits in 2022.|
|•||With an increased appreciation of the geology, the experienced team will continue to focus on updating the resource model and completing trade-off studies — all of which are moving the Donlin Gold project up the value chain and leading toward an updated feasibility study decision.|
Statements by the Owners
Mark Bristow, Barrick’s President and CEO, said: “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.”
Greg Lang, NOVAGOLD’s President and CEO, said: “We could not be happier with the outcome of this season’s drill program, Donlin Gold’s largest campaign in 15 years. 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. With this highly successful exercise behind us, followed by the completion of the resource model and trade-off studies, the owners look forward to supporting the Donlin Gold team and its partners Calista and TKC in positioning the project for the next steps in taking Donlin Gold up the value chain for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Dan Graham, General Manager of Donlin Gold added, “The 2022 drill campaign was a resounding success in which all involved can take great pride. It represents the product of the exceptional spirit of teamwork exhibited by Donlin Gold, Calista and TKC. 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.”
Most Important Drill Program in Over a Decade Progresses the Donlin Gold Deposit and Advances Key Project Efforts
Donlin Gold’s 2022 drill program was completed in September with 141 holes drilled for a total of 42,331 m. The final set of results released today include assays for 37 complete and 7 partial holes, encompassing the remaining 12,762 m of length drilled. Drilling in 2022 returned some of the best assay results seen to date at Donlin Gold. The success of this program is due to the exceptional dedication of the Donlin Gold team in Anchorage and at site, the majority of which were local hires from 24 different communities in the Y-K region, who all share the goal of protecting the health and safety of their colleagues and environmental stewardship.
As part of the key focus area for the drill program, tight-spaced grid drilling in the representative areas within the main structural domains of the deposit (Lewis – further infilled to 10m x 10m, West ACMA and Divide areas) confirmed recent geological modelling at wider drill-spacing in the immediate area surrounding the grids. It also identified additional short-scale controls that will be incorporated in an update to improve the geological domains used for global resource estimation, which will be used for strategic mine planning work. In addition, the 14 geotechnical drill holes provided results for advancing efforts to complete the application for the Alaska Dam Safety Certifications.
With the receipt of the final assay results for the 2022 drill program (which returned significant high-grade intercepts and continued to demonstrate important grade continuity), an update of the resource model, and completion of trade-off studies, the owners expect to take the next steps in bringing Donlin Gold up the value chain.
Five of the top intervals received from the final set of 2022 assay results released today include:
|•||DC22-2130 intersected 17.20 m grading 11.11 g/t gold starting at 902.45 m drilled depth, including a sub-interval of 4.25 m grading 36.91 g/t gold starting at 903.14 m drilled depth, the true widths of the mineralization across this interval and sub-interval are estimated to be 13 m and 3 m, respectively.|
|•||DC22-2183 intersected 24.27 m grading 7.56 g/t gold starting at 62.53 m drilled depth, including a sub-interval of 5.48 m grading 23.27 g/t gold starting at 69.81 m drilled depth, the true widths of the mineralization across this interval and sub-interval are estimated to be 16 m and 4 m, respectively.|
|•||DC22-2177 intersected 29.31 m grading 6.01 g/t gold starting at 168.51 m drilled depth, including a sub-interval of 3.08 m grading 13.46 g/t gold starting at 182.50 m drilled depth, the true widths of the mineralization across this interval and sub-interval are estimated to be 18 m and 2 m, respectively.|
|•||DC22-2168 intersected 21.75 m grading 7.12 g/t gold starting at 48.48 m drilled depth, including a sub-interval of 4.16 m grading 25.99 g/t gold starting at 63.13 m drilled depth, the true widths of the mineralization across this interval and sub-interval are estimated to be 15 m and 3 m, respectively.|
|•||DC22-2179 intersected 17.27 m grading 8.92 g/t gold starting at 41.32 m drilled depth, the true width of the mineralization across this interval is estimated to be 12 m.|
|•||Earlier assay results from the 2022 drill program were disclosed in media releases on July 28 and November 1, 2022.|
|•||Drill hole collar locations as well as five of the top intervals from the final assay results are shown in Figure 1.|
|•||Drill hole orientations, depths and significant intervals are shown in the Appendix at the end of this release, in Tables 1 and 2.|
Stakeholder and Government Engagement
The Donlin Gold project continues to work with Calista and TKC in all aspects of outreach and engagement throughout the Y-K region. Crooked Creek, the closest community to the project site in the Y-K region formally expressed their support of Donlin Gold. Three additional Shared Value Statements were also signed with villages in the Y-K region in the last three months for a total of 11. These formalize current engagement with key local communities, expand upon the long-term relationships already established with them, and address specific community needs including water, sewer, and solid waste projects; the ice road that connects remote villages in the Y-K region; salmon and other aquatic life studies; and suicide prevention and public safety programs. Local hires from the 2022 drill program will continue to support Donlin Gold’s engagement efforts through the Community Liaison program in five Y-K villages.
Calista and Donlin Gold continued their proactive, bipartisan outreach in Alaska and with the Administration and Congress in Washington, D.C. to highlight the thoroughness of the project’s environmental review and permitting processes, in addition to the considerable benefits that the project would deliver to all Native Alaskans. Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Michael Dunleavy were re-elected in the November 2022 United States mid-term elections, and along with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, have all been long-term supporters of the Donlin Gold project. We also recognize the historic re-election of U.S. Representative Mary Peltola for a full term as the first Alaska Native to join Congress and look forward to our continued outreach to her regarding Donlin Gold in the coming year.
Environment and Social Investments
Environmental stewardship, education, community wellness, and cultural preservation constitute key focus investments for Donlin Gold in the Y-K region. The project supports these initiatives through fishery studies and other environmental activities, subsistence and cultural preservation efforts, and educational grants. A wide range of activities and projects were carried out in collaboration with Calista and TKC in the fourth quarter. Donlin Gold supported various search and rescue teams in the region, provided funding to the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation and Bethel Community Services Foundation, as well as sponsored and participated in the Alaska Safe Riders initiative, which promotes safety for year-round outdoor sports. Donlin Gold fostered education, community wellness and cultural preservation through a variety of interventions including several river studies, supporting the local school district and educational organizations, funding and participating in youth sporting activities, and backing initiatives led by Traditional Councils and Native communities.
Donlin Gold is a federally permitted project on private Alaska Native Corporation land designated, by law, for mining and owned by Calista and TKC, with whom we have an excellent and longstanding partnership. Permitting in Alaska represents a substantial undertaking that takes several years to ensure a diligent, thorough, transparent, and inclusive process for all involved, including stakeholders from the Y-K region. As committed partners to the second largest gold-producing state in one of the world’s premier jurisdictions, we welcome a process that enhances our social and environmental license for decades to come.
In 2022, Donlin Gold applied for a new air quality permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) and a draft permit was issued for public comment in December 2022. Donlin Gold also submitted its application to ADEC for the regularly scheduled reissuance of its Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and in December 2022, ADEC sent a letter indicating that the application is complete and the permit will remain in effect until ADEC completes the reissuance process. On November 1, 2022, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) finalized the re-location plan for public easements in the mine site and transportation facility areas; these decisions were not appealed.
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. Our project leadership and litigation teams are intimately familiar with the processes that need to be followed. Donlin Gold and its owners, alongside the steadfast advocacy of Calista and TKC, continue to support the State and Federal government agencies in the defense of what has constituted an exceptionally thorough and diligent permitting process.
Donlin Gold 2023 Outlook
The 2023 budget for Donlin Gold (on a 100 percent basis) is set at approximately $34 million, split equally between the two owners. The 2023 work program will allow Donlin Gold to advance engineering activities, geologic modelling and interpretation work, current permits, fieldwork for the Alaska Dam Safety certificates, environmental studies, and community relations and government affairs activities.
The owners will continue to progress the Donlin Gold project as they have done consistently to date in a financially disciplined manner and with a focus on a strong safety culture, environmental stewardship, engineering excellence, and active community engagement.
About Donlin Gold
The Donlin Gold project is located in Alaska, the second largest gold-producing state in the United States. With approximately 39 million ounces of gold grading 2.24 grams per tonne in the measured and indicated mineral resource categories (100 percent basis)1, Donlin Gold 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 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, community outreach, and advancing the remaining State permitting actions.
Donlin Gold is a committed partner to the Alaska Native communities both surrounding the project and within the State as a whole. This commitment underpins our approach and is also reflected in the way in which the asset itself is structured. An important factor that distinguishes the Donlin Gold project from most other mining assets in Alaska is that the project is located on private land designated for mining activities under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Donlin Gold has entered into life-of-mine agreements with Calista, which owns the subsurface mineral rights and some surface land rights, and TKC, a collection of ten village corporations, which owns the majority of surface land rights. Donlin Gold is committed to providing employment opportunities, scholarships, and preferential contract considerations to Calista and TKC shareholders. The life-of-mine agreements include a revenue-sharing structure established in the context of the ANCSA, which resolved Alaska Native land claims and allotted some 44 million acres of land for use by Alaska Native Corporations. Additionally, our long-term commitment to economic development in the Y-K region is exemplified by Donlin Gold’s support of TKC’s initiative to launch energy and infrastructure projects in middle Kuskokwim villages. These partnerships, activities, and programs are illustrative of Donlin Gold’s commitment to sustainable and responsible development of the project for the benefit of all stakeholders.
1 Donlin Gold data as per the 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report (both as defined herein). Donlin Gold possesses Measured Resources of approximately 8 Mt grading 2.52 g/t and Indicated Resources of approximately 534 Mt grading 2.24 g/t, each on a 100% basis and inclusive of Mineral Reserves, of which approximately 4 Mt of Measured Resources and approximately 267 Mt of Indicated Resources inclusive of Reserves is attributable to NOVAGOLD through its 50% ownership interest in Donlin Gold LLC. Exclusive of Mineral Reserves, Donlin Gold possesses Measured Resources of approximately 1 Mt grading 2.23 g/t and Indicated Resources of approximately 69 Mt grading 2.44 g/t, of which approximately 0.5 Mt of Measured Resources and approximately 35 Mt of Indicated Resources exclusive of Mineral Reserves is attributable to NOVAGOLD. Mineral Resources have been estimated in accordance with NI 43-101 and S-K 1300.
FIGURE 1 Drill Hole Collar Locations
The QA/QC procedures for the 2022 Donlin Gold project drill program and sampling protocol were developed and managed by Donlin Gold and overseen by Barrick and NOVAGOLD. The chain of custody from the drill site to the sample preparation facility was continuously monitored. All samples are HQ-diameter core. Approximately 95% core recovery has been achieved during the 2022 drill program. Core was logged, cut, and sampled at site by Donlin Gold employees. The 43 Lewis grid infill drill holes were sampled as whole-core. Samples were primarily collected on one- to two-meter lengths. Sampled half- and whole-core were crushed in Bureau Veritas’ Juneau and Fairbanks, Alaska sample preparation facilities. Crushed samples were sent to Bureau Veritas’ lab in Vancouver, British Columbia for pulverizing and gold assays and pulverized splits to an ALS Limited lab in Vancouver, British Columbia for multi-element analysis. Quality control samples were inserted (standards at 5% of primary samples, blanks at 5% of primary samples and duplicates at 2.5% of primary samples) into each batch of samples. The review of the quality control samples did not indicate any bias or error. Out of bounds quality control samples were handled with appropriate reruns and investigations. There are no known factors that would materially affect the accuracy or reliability of the drill program data referred to in this media release.
Downhole directional surveys were completed on all reported completed holes by Boart Longyear drill operators, and collar surveys were completed by Donlin Gold staff under the supervision of Professional Licensed Surveyors from Brice Engineering LLC.
Each of Bureau Veritas, ALS Limited, Boart Longyear, and Brice Engineering LLC are independent of Donlin Gold, Barrick, and NOVAGOLD.
Scientific and Technical Information
In 2020, NOVAGOLD engaged Wood Canada Limited (“Wood”) to update the Second Updated Feasibility Study on Donlin Gold completed in 2011 (the “2011 Technical Report”). This update resulted in a report titled “NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, USA” with an effective date of June 1, 2021 (the “2021 Technical Report”). In 2021, NOVAGOLD also engaged Wood to prepare a Donlin Gold technical report summary in accordance with Subpart 229.1300 of Regulation S-K – Disclosure by Registrants Engaged in Mining Operations (“S-K 1300”) as of November 30, 2021. The resulting report is titled “S-K 1300 Technical Report Summary on the Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, USA” (“S-K 1300 Report”), current as of November 30, 2021. Wood incorporated 2020 costs and new gold price guidance to meet NOVAGOLD’s reporting requirements. The resultant 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report showed no material change to the previously reported mineral resources or mineral reserves.
NOVAGOLD is a registrant with the SEC and is reporting its Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves in accordance with S-K 1300 as of November 30, 2021. While the S-K 1300 rules are similar to National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) rules in Canada, they are not identical and therefore two reports have been produced for the Donlin Gold project.
Certain scientific and technical information contained herein with respect to the Donlin Gold project is derived from the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report. Henry Kim, P.Geo., Senior Resource Geologist, Wood Canada Limited; Mike Woloschuk, P.Eng., VP Global Business Development & Consulting, Wood Group USA, Inc.; and Kirk Hanson, MBA, P.E., Technical Director, Open Pit Mining, Wood Group USA, Inc. are the Qualified Persons responsible for the preparation of the 2021 Technical Report, and each is an independent Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101. Wood prepared the S-K 1300 Report.
Paul Chilson, P.E., Manager of Mine Engineering for NOVAGOLD and a Qualified Person under NI 43-101, has approved and verified the scientific and technical information related to the 2021 and 2022 Donlin Gold project drill programs, the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report contained in this media release. To verify the information related to the drilling programs, he has visited the property in the past year; discussed logging, sampling, and sample shipping processes with responsible site staff; discussed and reviewed assay and QA/QC results with responsible personnel; and reviewed supporting documentation, including drill hole location and orientation and significant assay interval calculations.
Octavia Bath, P.Geo., Barrick Mineral Resource Manager and a Qualified Person under NI 43-101, has reviewed and approved the assay results for the Donlin Gold project contained in this media release.
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