Donlin Gold Announces Assay Results From Remaining 30 Percent of the 2020 Drill Program, Consistent With Previously Reported Results of Higher Than Predicted Grade-Thickness
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Donlin Gold LLC (“Donlin Gold”), owned 50/50 by Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”) (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) and NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. (“NOVAGOLD”) (TSX, NYSE American: NG), is pleased to share the last set of assay results from the successful 2020 85-hole, 23,361-meter drill program.
- Assay results for all 85 completed holes now reported, representing a final total of 23,361 meters drilled
- Assay results demonstrate higher drilled grade-thickness than predicted by previous modelling
- Data collected has resulted in an improved appreciation of the controls on mineralization
- Drill program results will be integrated into the geologic model
The Board of Donlin Gold is considering additional confirmation and extension drilling to expand upon recent successes and fresh insights into the continuity and structural controls of the higher-grade mineralization.
Exceeding Expectations, Safely
The primary objective of the 2020 drill program, the largest such campaign at Donlin Gold since 2008, was to validate and increase the confidence in recent geologic modeling concepts.
Results in both the ACMA and Lewis deposit areas exceeded grade-thickness predicted by previous modeling, with higher grades observed over narrower intervals, particularly in sedimentary rocks.
Additional confirmation and extension drilling are being planned for the 2021 field season with a focus on further testing, orebody continuity, structural control, and geotechnical and geometallurgical data collection and analysis. The drilling program specifics will be finalized once all assay results have been integrated into an interim model update. It is anticipated that on the completion of the 2021 drilling program and a final geologic model update, the focus will then shift to updating the feasibility study subject to a formal decision by the Board.
Five of the top intervals received or updated since the January 19, 2021 media release include:
|●||DC20-1930 intersected 51.15 m grading 4.6 g/t gold, starting at 148.85 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 7.60 m grading 12.4 g/t gold, starting at 182.40 m drilled depth;|
|●||DC20-1932 intersected 47.66 m grading 4.8 g/t gold, starting at 101.62 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 4.00 m grading 19.5 g/t gold, starting at 143.28 m drilled depth;|
|●||DC20-1948 intersected 22.61 m grading 8.7 g/t gold, starting at 161.50 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 10.08 m grading 15.5 g/t gold, starting at 167.50 m drilled depth;|
|●||DC20-1938 intersected 17.96 m grading 10.5 g/t gold, starting at 1.83 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 3.96 m grading 28.0 g/t gold, starting at 1.83 m drilled depth; and|
|●||DC20-1946 intersected 35.80 m grading 4.5 g/t gold, starting at 96.20 m drilled depth.|
|●||Drill hole collar locations and five of the top intervals since the January 19, 2021 release are shown in Figure 1|
|●||Drill hole orientations and depths and significant intervals are shown in Tables 1 and 2, respectively, in the Appendix at the end of this release.|
These results were accomplished between March and October 2020 with zero COVID-19 cases on site and no Lost-Time Incidents.
Statements by the Owners
Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said, “The highly successful and COVID-free conclusion of the 2020 drill program, and in particular the strong results Barrick and NOVAGOLD have been sharing over the past eight months, represent a major step forward in improving the geological confidence in the Donlin project, a necessary step to advancing Donlin up the value chain.” He extended his thanks to the Donlin Gold team.
Greg Lang, NOVAGOLD’s President and CEO, said, “On every level, the results of the largest drill program at Donlin Gold in 12 years have been incredibly rewarding for the partnership and all stakeholders. Since we released the initial results in August last year, the assays have consistently revealed higher-grade gold intersections. These have only served to elevate Donlin Gold’s confidence in the recent geologic modeling concepts developed by the Barrick and NOVAGOLD teams, while confirming multiple high-grade extensions in both the intrusive (igneous) and sedimentary rocks, including near surface. One such near surface hit in drill hole DC20-1938, revealed today in this final set of results, intersected 17.96 m grading 10.5 g/t gold including 3.96 m grading 28.0 g/t gold starting at 1.83 m drilled depth. Needless to say, the assay results from the 2020 drill program further strengthen our resolve and belief in the extraordinary nature of Donlin Gold and provide us with a wealth of new knowledge to integrate into an updated geologic model.”
Dan Graham, General Manager of the Donlin Gold JV added, “By far, our most important objective in 2020 was to protect the health and safety of our workforce, contractors, and the residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) region. Despite the added challenge of navigating a pandemic, all 2020 drill program objectives were transcended and accomplished with zero COVID-19 cases on site and no Lost-Time Incidents. This is a testament to the professionalism and teamwork of all involved. It is an honor to work directly with our Alaska Native Corporation partners, Calista Corporation (“Calista”) and The Kuskokwim Corporation (“TKC”), as well as the communities in the Y-K region. Thanks to the Donlin Gold team, as well as to Calista and TKC for their dedication to the highest standards of safety, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. We are all proud to be bringing a federally permitted project up the value chain in one of the world’s most stable jurisdictions, the great State of Alaska, where there are numerous examples of socially and environmentally responsible mining projects, we as an industry can be proud of, and which can provide long-lasting benefits to future generations.”
About Donlin Gold
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.
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)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 Donlin Gold from most other mining assets in Alaska is that the project is located on private land designated for mining activities five decades ago. Donlin Gold has entered into life-of-mine agreements with Calista, which owns the subsurface mineral rights, and TKC, a collection of 10 village corporations, which owns the surface land rights, and is committed to providing employment opportunities, scholarships, and preferential contract considerations to Calista and TKC shareholders. These agreements include a revenue-sharing structure, established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) of 1971, which resolved Alaska Native land claims, allotting 44 million acres of land for use by Alaska Native Corporations. Additionally, our long-term commitment to economic development 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 the commitment to the sustainable and responsible development of the Donlin Gold project for the benefit of all stakeholders.
1 Donlin Gold data as per the Second Updated Feasibility Study (as defined below). Donlin Gold 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, of which Barrick and NOVAGOLD each own 50%. Mineral resources have been estimated in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”).
FIGURE 1 Drill Hole Collar Locations is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/d74f075a-d6b9-446a-b5b8-478d30385539
Depicted grid system is based on NAD83 UTM zone 4N coordinates.
The owners provided previous updates on assay results in the August 6, 2020 media release “Donlin Gold Project Provides Update on Recent Drilling and Ongoing Community Support in Alaska Amid COVID-19 Pandemic”, the October 26, 2020 media release “Donlin Gold 2020 Q3 Update: Drilling Continues to Yield High Grade Intercepts and Improve Geological Modeling”, and the January 19, 2021 media release “Donlin Gold 2020 Q4 Drilling Program Assay Results Continue to Exceed Modeled Projections While Partners Deliver a Safe and COVID-Free Year.” These previously disclosed results are referenced in Table 2 and marked with their disclosure date.
The QA/QC procedures for the 2020 Donlin Gold drill program and sampling protocol were developed and managed by Donlin Gold LLC 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 93% core recovery was achieved. Core was logged, cut, and sampled at site by Donlin Gold employees. Samples were primarily collected on two-meter lengths, with a minimum length of 0.3 meters and maximum length of approximately 3.5 meters. Sampled half-core was crushed and pulverized in ALS Limited’s Fairbanks, Alaska; Whitehorse, Yukon; or Vancouver, British Columbia sample preparation facilities. Pulp samples were sent to the ALS labs in Vancouver, British Columbia; Lima, Peru; or Reno, Nevada for gold assays and to labs in Vancouver, British Columbia or Lima, Peru for multi-element analysis. At least 14 quality control samples (four standards, four coarse blanks, two pulp blanks, two coarse duplicates, and two pulp duplicates) were inserted into each batch of 80 samples. The review of the quality control samples did not indicate any bias or error. 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 both Boart Longyear drill operators and on 96% of reported completed holes by DGI Geoscience Inc. technicians, and collar surveys were completed on all holes by Professional Licensed Surveyors from either Rowland Engineering Consultants or Brice Engineering LLC.
Each of ALS Limited, Boart Longyear, DGI Geoscience Inc., Rowland Engineering Consultants, and Brice Engineering LLC are independent of Donlin Gold, Barrick, and NOVAGOLD.
Scientific and Technical Information
Certain scientific and technical information contained herein with respect to the Donlin Gold project is derived from the “Donlin Creek Gold Project Alaska, USA NI 43-101 Technical Report on Second Updated Feasibility Study” prepared by AMEC with an effective date of November 18, 2011, as amended January 20, 2012 (the “Second Updated Feasibility Study”). Kirk Hanson, P.E., Technical Director, Open Pit Mining, North America, (AMEC, Reno) is the Qualified Person responsible for the preparation of the independent technical report, and an independent “qualified person” as defined by NI 43-101. Wood Canada Limited (“Wood” formerly AMEC Americas Limited) is currently updating all sections of the Second Updated Feasibility Study with updated costs, economic assessment, permitting information, and technical information related to permitting, generated on the Donlin Gold project since 2011, which is anticipated to be finalized and filed during 2021. Based on that cost review, Wood determined that updating the Second Updated Feasibility Study using 2020 costs and new gold price guidance results in no material change to the mineral resources or mineral reserves. The economic assessment in the updated study may be materially different than in the 2011 study.
Clifford Krall, P.E., who is the Mine Engineering Manager for NOVAGOLD and a “qualified person” under NI 43-101, has approved and verified the scientific and technical information related to the 2020 Donlin Gold drill program contained in this media release. To verify the information related to the drilling program, he visited the project site twice during the 2020 field season; discussed and observed 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., who is a Barrick Project 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.
Kathy du Plessis
Investor and Media Relations
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COO, North America
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Vice President, Corporate Communications
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Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This media release includes certain “forward-looking information” and “forward-looking statements” (collectively “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable securities legislation, including the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “potential”, “possible”, and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions, or results “will”, “may”, “could”, “would” or “should” occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based on several opinions, estimates and assumptions that management of Barrick and NOVAGOLD considered appropriate and reasonable as of the date such statements are made, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that may cause the actual results, activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include statements regarding anticipated benefits from the 2020 drill program including an improved geological model for Donlin Gold; the update to the Second Updated Feasibility Study and the results thereof, ongoing support provided to key stakeholders including Native Corporation partners; the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of Donlin Gold; the potential development and construction of Donlin Gold; the sufficiency of funds to continue to advance development of Donlin Gold; perceived merit of properties; mineral reserve and resource estimates; and future share price performance of Barrick and NOVAGOLD. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, intentions, projections or other characterizations of future events or circumstances are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts but instead represent Barrick’s and NOVAGOLD’s management expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events or circumstances on the date the statements are made.
Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include the need to obtain additional permits and governmental approvals; the timing and likelihood of permits including the right-of-way lease offer for the project’s buried natural gas pipeline; the need for additional financing to explore and develop properties and availability of financing in the debt and capital markets; the outbreak of the coronavirus global pandemic (COVID-19); uncertainties involved in the interpretation of drill results and geological tests and the estimation of reserves and resources; changes in mineral production performance, exploitation and exploration successes; changes in national and local government legislation, taxation, controls or regulations and/or changes in the administration of laws, policies and practices, expropriation or nationalization of property and political or economic developments in the United States or Canada; the need for continued cooperation between Barrick and NOVAGOLD for the continued exploration, and development and eventual construction of the Donlin Gold property; the need for cooperation of government agencies and native groups in the development and operation of properties; risks of construction and mining projects such as accidents, equipment breakdowns, bad weather, disease pandemics, non-compliance with environmental and permit requirements, unanticipated variation in geological structures, ore grades or recovery rates; unexpected cost increases, which could include significant increases in estimated capital and operating costs; fluctuations in metal prices and currency exchange rates; whether a positive construction decision will be made regarding Donlin Gold; and other risks and uncertainties disclosed in Barrick’s most recent Form 40-F/Annual Information Form on file with the SEC and Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities and NOVAGOLD’s most recent reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, particularly the “Risk Factors” sections of those reports and other documents filed by Barrick and NOVAGOLD with applicable securities regulatory authorities from time to time. Copies of these filings may be obtained by visiting Barrick’s and NOVAGOLD’s Investor Relations website at www.barrick.com and www.novagold.com, respectively, or the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov, or at www.sedar.com. The forward-looking statements contained herein reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections of Barrick and NOVAGOLD on the date the statements are made. Barrick and NOVAGOLD assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements of beliefs, opinions, projections, or other factors, should they change, except as required by law.
Cautionary Note to United States Investors
NOVAGOLD cautions that this media release has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the securities laws in effect in Canada, which differ from the requirements of U.S. securities laws. Unless otherwise indicated, all resource and reserve estimates included in this media release have been prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM)—CIM Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, adopted by the CIM Council, as amended (“CIM Definition Standards”). NI 43-101 is a rule developed by the Canadian Securities Administrators which establishes standards for all public disclosure an issuer makes of scientific and technical information concerning mineral projects. Canadian standards, including NI 43-101, differ significantly from the requirements of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Industry Guide 7 (“SEC Industry Guide 7”), and resource and reserve information contained herein may not be comparable to similar information disclosed by U.S. companies. NOVAGOLD’s disclosure concerning Reserve & Resources Estimates remains consistent with NI 43-101. Under SEC Industry Guide 7, mineralization may not be classified as a “reserve” unless the determination has been made that the mineralization could be economically and legally produced or extracted at the time the reserve determination is made. SEC Industry Guide 7 normally does not permit the inclusion of information concerning “measured mineral resources”, “indicated mineral resources” or “inferred mineral resources” or other descriptions of the amount of mineralization in mineral deposits that do not constitute “reserves” under SEC Industry Guide 7 in documents filed with the SEC. Investors should also understand that “inferred mineral resources” have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence and great uncertainty as to their economic and legal feasibility. Under Canadian rules, estimated “inferred mineral resources” may not form the basis of feasibility or pre-feasibility studies except in rare cases. Disclosure of “contained ounces” in a resource is permitted disclosure under Canadian regulations; however, the SEC normally only permits issuers to report mineralization that does not constitute “reserves” under SEC Industry Guide 7 as in-place tonnage and grade without reference to unit measures. The requirements of NI 43-101 for identification of “reserves” are also not the same as those of SEC Industry Guide 7, and reserves reported by NOVAGOLD in compliance with NI 43-101 may not qualify as “reserves” under SEC Industry Guide 7. Donlin Gold does not have known reserves, as defined under SEC Industry Guide 7. Accordingly, information concerning mineral deposits set forth herein may not be comparable with information made public by companies that report in accordance with SEC Industry Guide 7.
On October 31, 2018, the SEC adopted a final rule (“New Final Rule”) that will replace SEC Industry Guide 7 with new disclosure requirements that are more closely aligned with current industry and global regulatory practices and standards, including NI 43-101. Companies must comply with the New Final Rule for the Company’s first fiscal year beginning on or after January 1, 2021, which for NOVAGOLD would be the fiscal year beginning December 1, 2021. The New Final Rule provides that SEC Industry Guide 7 will remain effective until all registrants are required to comply with the New Final Rule, at which time SEC Industry Guide 7 will be rescinded. While early voluntary compliance with the New Final Rule is permitted, NOVAGOLD has not elected to comply with the New Final Rule at this time.
Drill Hole Orientations* and Depths
|Hole||Azimuth (°)||Inclination (°)||Depth (m)|
|DC20-1890||abandoned before completion, re-drilled as 1891|
|DC20-1896||abandoned before completion, re-drilled as 1898|
* Note that azimuth and inclination values vary as each hole progresses. The stated values are hole averages, rounded to the nearest degree.
2020 Donlin Gold Significant Assay Intervals
|Au Grade (g/t)||Reported|
Significant intervals represent drilled intervals and not necessarily true thickness of mineralization. Mineralized intervals meet or exceed 3 meters in length above 1 g/t. A maximum of 4 meters of continuous dilution (< 1 g/t) is permitted. Any drill intervals not depicted in this table did not meet the significant interval criteria.