Promising Results from Summer Exploration at Donlin Gold Mine
An aerial view of the Donlin Gold site near the upper Kuskokwim River.
Developers of the Donlin Gold project in the upper Kuskokwim River region say they are pleased with initial results of this season’s exploratory drilling.
Up the Value Chain
Barrick Gold and NOVAGOLD, which are 50/50 owners in the venture, report that the plans for a 34,000-meter drill program is progressing ahead of schedule, with 26,800 meters completed by the end of July. Crews expect to drill the rest before the exploration season ends in the fall.
The companies say assay results from approximately 9,870 meters of this summer’s drilling support recent modeling concepts and strategic mine planning work.
“The 2022 drill program has been extremely exciting, not to mention rewarding,” says NOVAGOLD President and CEO Greg Lang. “We have significantly de-risked Donlin Gold over many years, taking it up the value chain so as to improve and enhance the value of the project for all our stakeholders.”
The mine is being developed on land owned by Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, the joint corporation for ten villages in the region.
The site crew encompasses 150 employees, contractors, and student interns working on a two-week rotation schedule. Donlin Gold says most of them are local hires representing twenty-four Yukon-Kuskokwim communities.
“Donlin Gold’s top priorities continue to be the health and safety of our people following the best practices in environmental stewardship for the benefit of the people of Alaska,” says Dan Graham, general manager of Donlin Gold. “While exceeding productivity rates and running ahead of schedule, the overall morale of employees has been high and our safety record has remained strong.”
The focus of 2022 exploration has been tight-spaced grid drilling. In June, the Donlin Gold board of directors approved an additional forty-three drill holes and 8,380 meters to infill one of the 20-meter grids to 10-meter spacing. The additional data feeds into an updated feasibility study, subject to a formal decision by the Donlin Gold board.
Mark Bristow, president and CEO of Barrick Gold, says the 2022 drill program continues to enhance understanding of the ore bodies. He says he’s looking forward to a workshop in September at the Donlin Gold project to review the work completed to date and lay the path forward.
Lang adds, “With the latest set of assays, we continue to enjoy some of the best gold intercepts in the mining industry.”
Since intensive exploration began in 1995 and the permitting process began in 2012, the Donlin deposit has been estimated to contain 33.8 million ounces of gold, which would make it the fourth largest in the world. All federal permits are in hand and all but a few state permits. The mine is expected to employ up to 1,000 miners and support staff during its 27-year lifetime.