The Donlin gold project — one of the largest and highest grade undeveloped open-pit gold endowments in the world — has received a record of decision and federal permits, its co-owners Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX) and NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG; NYSE-AM NG) say.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management have issued a single federal record of decision for the Alaskan project, following the completion of the federal National Environmental Policy process.
“Now, with key permits in hand, we can concentrate on further exploring ways of reducing initial capital and unlocking the value of this asset for all of our partners,” Rob Krcmarov, Barrick’s executive vice-president of exploration and growth, said in prepared remarks.
Greg Lang, NovaGold’s president and CEO, noted that the ROD “serves as the foundation for issuance of the federal permits required for us to build a technically, environmentally, and financially responsible, as well as a socially sustainable, operation.”
With this milestone behind them, the companies say, they can concentrate on finishing the optimization studies to lower initial capital outlays and improve project economics. Further details can be expected in the fourth quarter in terms of updating the project’s 2011 feasibility study, the companies said.
Based on previous estimates, the project has the potential to produce, on average, more than 1 million oz. gold annually over a 27-year mine life.
On a 100% basis, Donlin contains about 39 million ounces of gold grading 2.24 grams gold per tonne in the measured and indicated category.
The current mine footprint makes up just 3 km of an 8-km-long gold-bearing trend.
In addition to the ROD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a combined permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The BLM also issued the Offer to Lease for the right-of-way for those portions of the natural gas pipeline that would cross federal lands.