Novagold and Barrick diverge on next steps for Donlin

26th January 2024

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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The joint owners of the Donlin project – Novagold and Barrick Gold –  have yet to reach consensus on the path forward for the Alaska project, it was revealed on Thursday.

The December Donlin board meeting witnessed a divergence in proposals, with Novagold advocating for an updated feasibility study, while Barrick pressed for an ongoing drilling campaign, Novagold said in its financial year-end results.

Despite the lack of agreement on the proposals, both parties identified common ground in value-adding activities that could propel the project forward.

As discussions continue regarding the project’s next steps, the Donlin board has given the green light to a budget of $28.5-million for 2024. The allocated funds will be used for resource modelling, mining planning work, metallurgical test work (pilot plant), regional infrastructure support planning, geoscience hydrology and closure planning, advancement of the dam safety certificate applications, and continued support of pending litigation, government affairs, community engagement activities, and sponsorships.

Over the past three years, the Donlin team’s focus has centred on building orebody knowledge around controls on mineralisation through detailed mapping and infill grid drilling. The drilling supported the classification of inferred and indicated resources in the current Donlin resource estimate.

Last year was also marked by several achievements for Donlin. In July, the field programme saw successful completion, showcasing comprehensive fieldwork and geotechnical drilling crucial for Alaska dam safety certification applications. This included a hydrogeologic drilling effort covering 1 279 m, complete with instrumentation and pump tests. The data gathered provided insights for mine planning and design.

Further, efforts were dedicated to the Lyman family's historic placer site restoration, with a focus on advancing pond habitat creation, setting the stage for anticipated aquatic life access and use in the upcoming 2024 field season.

Engaging with state officials and the US Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska, in collaboration with Calista and the village of Crooked Creek, marked another significant stride. The purpose of these meetings was to underscore the project's comprehensive environmental review and permitting processes, as well as the close collaboration with Native Alaskan landowners.


Meanwhile, Novagold reported the promotion of Richard Williams as COO and welcomed Ben Machlis who recently joined as VP and general counsel.

Williams has led the engineering and technical programme at Novagold for over a decade. Previously, he spent over 30 years with Barrick developing and operating major mines.

Machlis is an experienced natural resources and environmental attorney. He spent the last seven years as a partner at Dorsey & Whitney where he chaired its regulatory affairs practice group, which houses its natural resources, energy, environmental, cybersecurity, workplace safety, and telecom attorneys and represented mining, renewable development, and other industrial companies on permitting, project development, operational compliance, closure, and remediation issues.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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