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Donlin Gold announces final 2021 drill programme results

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Global Mining Review,

Donlin Gold LLC, owned 50:50 by Barrick Gold Corporation and NO-VAGOLD RESOURCES INC., has released the final set of assay results from the 2021 drill programme.


  • Comprehensive 79-hole, 24 264-m 2021 drill programme produced multiple high-grade gold intercepts. The results support the existing global resource estimate, the recent modelling concepts, and strategic mine planning work.
  • With extensive communication and the application of health and safety protocols, COVID-19 cases at site during 2021 were minimal and there were no lost-time incidents.
  • With the largest project budget in more than a decade, the owners have a plan in place to advance the Donlin Gold project up the value chain in 2022 and position the project to be able to proceed with the preparation of an updated feasibility study, subject to Donlin Gold LLC Board approval.
  • Donlin Gold partnered with local communities in 2021 to provide support and resources in health and safety, environmental management, train-ing and education, as well as cultural initiatives in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) region.
  • Additional state permits for the project were received at the end of 2021 – the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued two Special Area Permits required for pipeline facilities. In December 2021, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation approved a third extension of the air quality permit.

Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, said: “It is encouraging to see a significant drill programme for 2022 to further increase our understanding of the ore body, driven by our knowledge gained from the 2021 drill programme. This year’s drilling campaign will focus on the potential upside of the Acma pit at depth, where there is still limited drilling, focusing on the upside for the pit. We will also focus on grid drilling on Lewis and Divide as we also look to un constrain the pit with additional at depth targets. This significant programme for 2022 will help guide us on future drill targets and the path forward with the project.”

Greg Lang, NOVAGOLD’s President and CEO, added: “The 2021 drill campaign finished strong with some high-grade intercepts and some of the best drill results for an opencast gold project industrywide. The increased level of activity, with approximately 65 people on site for the 2022 field season and three of four drill rigs operating at Donlin Gold, continues to build momentum and excitement for the future of the project. It is invigorating to have drills turning for the first winter programme in years. We are grateful to our Native Corporation partners at Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC), as well as to our contractors, suppliers, local and State partners, who have supported the project and worked with us to reach these important milestones. With activities well laid out for the year ahead, our combined experienced team will continue to advance Donlin Gold up the value chain.”

Dan Graham, General Manager of Donlin Gold, continued: “The expanded 2021 drill programme was a success because of the incredible work by the Donlin Gold team, Calista and TKC, and our collective dedication to the highest standards of safety, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. We are grateful that, even while expanding the 2021 drill programme mid-summer, COVID-19 cases at site were minimal and there were no lost-time incidents. Once built, the Donlin Gold project is expected to provide significant benefits for the Y-K region and the State of Alaska for generations to come.”

The 2021 drill programme was completed in September with 79 holes drilled for a total of 24 264 m. The final set of assay results released 28 February 2022 includes assays for 21 complete holes and 22 partial holes, encompassing the remaining approximate 8500 m of length drilled. The primary objective of the 2021 drill programme was to validate recent geologic modelling concepts to support future feasibility work and test for ex-tensions of high-grade zones.

The original 2021 drill programme was expanded by 13 drill holes to improve the company’s understanding of the structural controls on mineralisation. This additional drilling has been instrumental in supporting the updated ore domaining approach and will be expanded in 2022. The drill programme included confirmation and extension drilling that focused on further testing of orebody continuity and structural controls, as well as data collection for geotechnical and geometallurgical purposes.

The success of the expanded 2021 drill programme delivered drill results facilitated by the company’s efficient and effective onsite team with great attention to the health and safety of the workforce. During the 2021 drill programme season, 70% of Donlin Gold direct hires were Alaska Natives from 20 Y-K communities. Out of approximately 171 310 hours worked, four cases of COVID-19 at the Donlin Gold project site were recorded. The affected individuals fully recovered. Donlin Gold continues to implement strict COVID-19 mitigation protocols to keep employees, their families, contractors, and members of the community safe and healthy.

Once the 2021 drill data has been incorporated into an updated resource model, it is anticipated that the owners will determine updated mining schedules and life of mine business plans prior to shifting to an updated feasibility study, subject to a formal decision by the Donlin Gold LLC Board to proceed.

Five of the top intervals received from the final set of 2021 assay results released include:

  • DC21-2017 intersected 19 m grading 18.23 g/t gold (Au) starting at 144.53 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 14.31 m grading 23.49 g/t Au starting at 144.53 m drilled depth.
  • DC21-1994 intersected 77.56 m grading 3.51 g/t Au starting at 262.56 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 7.91 m grading 12.39 g/t Au starting at 322.94 m drilled depth.
  • DC21-2015 intersected 43.01 m grading 5.04 g/t Au starting at 27.16 m drilled depth, including a sub interval of 5.99 m grading 11.81 g/t Au start-ing at 29.22 m drilled depth.
  • DC21-2019 intersected 28.23 m grading 4.40 g/t Au starting at 156.26 m drilled depth.
  • DC21-1998 intersected 45.83 m grading 3.04 g/t Au starting at 103.55 m drilled depth.

Donlin Gold worked with its Alaska Native partners, Calista and TKC, as well as other key representatives of Y-K communities, to support health and safety, environmental management, training and education, and cultural initiatives in the Y-K region.

Some of these initiatives included:

  • The sponsorship of the Calricaraq (‘to practice good health’) team from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation to travel to area villages to support residents and families who have lost loved ones to suicide – a heightened challenge in remote villages, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sponsoring and participating in the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s annual College and Career fair, held virtually this year due to COVID, with 42 vendors and 100 students in attendance.
  • Partnering with KSKO Radio to purchase and distribute hand-held radios for five middle Kuskokwim villages, expanding the reach of public radio to communities where internet connectivity is lacking.
  • Collaborating with 26 villages throughout the Y-K region in the fourth annual “In It For The Long Haul” backhaul project last summer to remove 180 000 lbs of hazardous and electronic waste – the most waste ever removed in a single season since the project inception.


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