In what has been the largest drill campaign at the Donlin gold project in Alaska in 12 years, joint-venture partners Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) and NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG; NYSE-AM: NG) announced they have completed this year’s 85-hole program totalling 23,400 metres.
The companies reported results for nine of the drill holes in August, and released assays from another 16 holes today, with highlights of 4 metres grading 80.6 grams gold per tonne starting at a depth of 124 metres in drill hole 20-1877, including a sub-interval of 3 metres grading 106.2 grams gold.
Drillhole 20-1888 intersected 7 metres of 43.1 grams gold starting from 179 metres, including 3 metres of 90.5 grams gold; and drill hole 20-1878 cut 20 metres averaging 11.3 grams gold from 49 metres downhole, including a subinterval of 7 metres of 25.2 grams gold.
Another hole, 20-1886, cut 34 metres of 6.5 grams gold starting from 218 metres depth, including 8 metres of 11.3 grams gold.
The drilling was in both the ACMA and Lewis deposit areas of the project, and the partners intend to continue drilling Donlin next year. The data from the 2020 drill program will be incorporated into an updated model.
“With the latest set of assay results, we continue to encounter intersections of higher grade mineralization than previously modelled,” NovaGold’s president and chief executive, Greg Lang, said in a statement. “With the industry burning through reserves, and grades continuing to decline, great drill results with even higher than modelled grades are exciting for any mining company — and we believe that to be particularly true for Donlin Gold at this late stage of development.”
Barrick Gold chief executive Mark Bristow said the drill results from this year’s work program, along with exploration at the project over the last two decades, “continue to highlight Donlin’s world-class potential.”
“A comprehensive geological understanding of any orebody is a foundational step that few companies in the gold industry do well,” Bristow said in a statement. “With an orebody the size, scale, and quality of Donlin Gold, it is of even greater importance in order for the project to successfully deliver maximum value for all our stakeholders.”
The project contains approximately 39 million oz. gold grading 2.24 grams gold in the measured and indicated categories, making it one of the largest and highest grade undeveloped open pit projects in the world.