We have a very encouraging news from NovaGold for all gold mining projects in Alaska. Company and its partner Barrick Gold moves ahead with the $6.7 billion development of Donlin Gold project. Both companies are shareholders in TNR Gold, with Nova Gold holding under 10% of the company - after Shotgun Gold project was consolidated 100% by TNR Gold last year.
TNR Gold's Shotgun Gold project with almost 1 million oz Gold (Historical NON 43-101) resource will bring investors and industry attention again now. The development of Donlin Gold will bring necessary infrastructure to the area making the development of other mining projects possible. The proposed natural gas pipeline is a game changer in the rising Oil prices environment and will provide the unique opportunity for reducing the development and production cost of the mines in the area.
Please, do not forget, that we own stocks we are writing about and have position in these companies. We are not providing any investment advise on this blog and there is no solicitation to buy or sell any particular company here. Always consult with your qualified financial adviser before making any investment decisions.
By BECKY BOHRER
NovaGold Resources Inc. announced Monday that a gold prospect in southwest Alaska is ready to advance to permitting.
The Canada-based company said an updated feasibility study shows that the total cost of the project is roughly $300 million less than an earlier projection, at about $6.7 billion. The report also underscored the benefit of using natural gas instead of diesel for power generation, the company said. A pipeline would cost about $834 million.
Pending board approval, which could come next week, the permitting process could be initiated for the Donlin Gold project by April. Donlin Gold LLC, which holds the project, is owned by subsidiaries of NovaGold and Canada-based Barrick Gold Corp.
NovaGold President and CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse told The Associated Press that the mine would average 1.5 million ounces of gold a year during its first five years of operation, and an average 1.1 million ounces over its projected 27-year life. Average cash-cost during the first five years would be $409 an ounce, and an average $585 an ounce over the life of the project, NovaGold said.
The price of gold has been over $1,700 an ounce.
NovaGold said there are proven and probable reserves of 33.8 million ounces at the Alaska site. The company expressed confidence that more discoveries will be made, which could add to the mine's life or lead to expanded production.
The project, expected to be an open-pit mine, is about 155 miles northeast of Bethel, or 280 miles west of Anchorage. The mine site is on private Alaska Native corporation-owned land, Van Nieuwenhuyse said.
The project is operated under a mining lease with the Alaska Native corporation Calista Corp., and NovaGold said a lease agreement provides Calista with payments, royalties and economic development rights. Donlin Gold is negotiating a restructuring of a surface use agreement with Kuskokwim Corp., NovaGold said.
Van Nieuwenhuyse said it could take up to four years for the permitting process to be completed. The project would provide about 2,000 jobs during construction and between 500 and 800 long-term, a figure that doesn't include contractors."
Completes Positive Feasibility Study On Donlin Gold ProjectNatural GasPipeline's Economic Benefits ConfirmedCapex Estimate Declines From Previous GuidanceProject Ready to Advance to PermittingAll figures are in US dollars except where noted and shown on a 100% Project basis, of which NovaGold and Barrick each hold a 50% interest.
December 5, 2011 - Vancouver, British Columbia - NovaGold Resources Inc. ("NovaGold” or the "Company”) (NYSE-AMEX: NG, TSX:NG) is pleased to announce the positive conclusion of the second Feasibility Study update ("Study”) completed for the Donlin Gold Project ("Donlin Gold” or the "Project”) located in southwestern Alaska. The Study revises the feasibility study completed in April 2009 with updated mineral reserves and resources, capital cost and operating cost estimates. The Study was compiled by AMEC Americas Ltd. ("AMEC”). The Project is held by Donlin Gold LLC which is owned equally by wholly-owned subsidiaries of NovaGold and Barrick Gold Corporation ("Barrick”).
Donlin Gold, if put into production in accordance with the Study, would be among the world's most significant low-operating-cost and long-lived gold mines, averaging 1.5 million ounces of gold per year in its first five years of operation at an average cash cost of $409/oz, which is expected to accelerate project payback, and an average of 1.1 million ounces of gold per year at average cash cost of $585/oz over its projected 27-year mine life. Exploration upside is believed to be excellent with the potential to expand the current open pit resources along strike and at depth. With proven and probable mineral reserves estimated at 33.8 million ounces established along only three kilometers of a well-established mineralized corridor in excess of eight kilometers long, NovaGold is confident that further discoveries will be made. Prospects exist to both increase mine life and/or justify future production expansions.
Significantly, the Study confirms the attractiveness of a prior-referenced option for power generation utilizing natural gas rather than the original diesel option. Natural gas would be delivered to site via a 500-kilometer-long pipeline. The change to utilizing natural gas is an important modification that is believed to materially improve numerous project parameters including lowering operating costs; improving environmental management and social infrastructure; providing flexibility for future operational modifications; and facilitating potential increases in the scale of operations in this geologically prospective district.
The capital cost estimated at $6.7 billion includes the natural gas pipeline and nearly $1.0 billion in contingencies. It should be noted that this capital cost is approximately $300 million lower than the guidance provided in NovaGold's press release dated September 7, 2011.
The Project provides tremendous leverage to gold prices. The resultant after-tax Net Present Value ("NPV”) using the base case three-year trailing average of $1,200 per ounce gold displays a positive $547 million using a 5% discount rate. Importantly, the resultant NPV sensitivity analysis shows a more than eight-fold expansion to $4.6 billion at $1,700-per-ounce gold, and then a nearly 50% increase again to $6.7 billion at $2,000-per-ounce gold. Additionally, NovaGold has opening tax pools of approximately $102 million that can be applied against its share of income from the Project which would increase NovaGold's pro rata share of Project NPV. Based on the results of this Study, NovaGold anticipates Donlin Gold commencing formal project permitting in early 2012.
Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, President and CEO of NovaGold, commented, "The Donlin Gold technical optimization phase is now complete and, once Board approval is obtained, NovaGold anticipates moving forward with permitting as the next step towards making this world-class mine a reality. Completion of this Study is a significant milestone for NovaGold, joint-owner Barrick, the Project and our Alaska Native partners. With Greg Lang, a proven mine builder, assuming the leadership of NovaGold and Barrick bringing best practices to permitting, developing and operating large scale open-pit gold mines, Donlin Gold has all of the necessary components to be developed into one of the largest, most efficient, environmentally sound and valuable gold producers in the world.”
Thomas Kaplan, the Company's newly appointed Chairman of the Board, added, "Donlin Gold is a uniquely attractive asset. In size, it ranks among the top 1% of gold deposits in the world and its grade, long mine-life and exploration potential are exceptional. In addition, Donlin Gold is located in the right place: the United States. At a time when the oft-used mining expression ‘world-class' is losing its meaning, as resource nationalism has meant that great assets are often in political or economic jurisdictions that are simply becoming un-investable, fiduciaries are now being forced to begin their analysis not with size and cost, but jurisdictional safety. Within this overall context, which is likely to get worse over time rather than better, truly great assets such as Donlin Gold, which ‘have it all,' are becoming ‘category killers' that we expect will enjoy premium ratings. For all of these combined relative advantages, we believe that NovaGold particularly — a well-managed company transforming itself into a pure-play gold developer with extraordinary exploration potential and exceptional leverage to the price of gold — is set to emerge as one of the select few jurisdictionally safe, institutional-quality development-stage gold equities.”
Highlights (100% Project Basis)
- Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves estimated at 33.8 million ounces of gold, representing a 16% increase compared to the April 2009 feasibility study
- 27-year mine life assessed on the basis of 53,500 tonne-per-day throughput, an increase of six years compared to the April 2009 feasibility study
- First full five years:
- 1.46 million ounces of annual gold production
- Cash costs of $409/oz1
- Life of mine:
- 1.13 million ounces of annual gold production
- Cash costs of $585/oz1
- Estimated start-up capital costs of $6.7 billion including $834 million for the natural gas pipeline and $984 million of contingencies; capital costs are approximately $300 million lower than shown in preliminary guidance provided in NovaGold's Press Release dated September 7, 2011
Financial Analysis (100% Project Basis)
(1) Based on $1,200/oz gold price and an exchange rate of C$1.10:US$1.00.(2) NPVs and IRRs as at January 1, 2014. Project development costs prior to that date are treated as sunk costs.
|Average annual after-tax cash flow|
|First Full 5 years|
|Life of Mine|
|NPV (5%) after-tax2|
Project LocationDonlin Gold is situated approximately 450kilometers west of Anchorage and 250kilometers northeast of Bethel up the Kuskokwim River. The Donlin Gold deposits lie in the central Kuskokwim basin of southwestern Alaska.
Mineral Reserve and Resource EstimatesThe Study estimates Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves for the Donlin Gold project shown below.
Donlin Gold Mineral Reserve Estimate
|Total Proven & Probable|
(1) Mineral Reserves are contained within Measured and Indicated pit designs, and supported by a mine plan, featuring variable throughput rates, stockpiling and cut-off optimization. The pit designs and mine plan were optimized on diluted grades using the following economic and technical parameters: Metal price for gold of $975/oz; average mining cost of $1.67/t mined, variable processing cost based on the formula 2.1874 x (S%) + 10.65 for each $/t processed; general and administrative cost of $2.27/t processed; variable recoveries by rocktype, ranging from 86.66% in shale to 94.17% in intrusive rocks in the Akivik domain; refining and freight charges of $1.78/oz gold; royalty considerations of 4.5%; and variable pit slope angles, ranging from 23º to 43º.(2) Mineral reserves have been estimated using a constant NSR cut-off of $0.01/t milled. Mineral Reserves are reported using an optimized Net Smelter Return ("NSR”) value based on the following equation: NSR = Au grade * Recovery * (Price of Au – (1.78 + ((Price of Au – 1.78) * 0.045))) - (10.64 + 2.1874 * (S%) + 2.27) and reported in $/tonne. (3) The life of mine strip ratio is 5.48. The assumed life-of-mine throughput rate is 53.5kt/d.(4) Rounding as required by reporting guidelines may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.(5) Mineral reserves are reported on a 100% basis. NovaGold and Barrick each own 50% of the Donlin Gold project. Tonnage and grade measurements are in metric units. Contained gold ounces are reported as troy ounces. Mineral Reserves have been estimated using a long-term gold price assumption of $975/oz. Mineral resources are based on a Whittle™ pit optimized for all Measured, Indicated, and Inferred blocks assuming a gold selling price of $1,200/oz and are inclusive of reserves.
Donlin Gold Measured and Indicated Resource (Inclusive of Reserves) and Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate
|Total Measured + Indicated|
(1) Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. There is no certainty that the portion of the Mineral Resources that have not been converted to Mineral Reserves will be able to be converted in the future. See "Cautionary Note Regarding Reserve and Resource Estimates”.(2) Mineral Resources are contained within a conceptual Measured, Indicated and Inferred optimized pit shell using the following assumptions: gold price of $1,200/oz; variable process cost based on 2.1874 * (sulphur grade) + 10.6485; administration cost of $2.27/t; refining, freight & marketing (selling costs) of $1.78/oz recovered; variable royalty rate, based on royalty of 4.5% – (Au price – selling cost).(3) Mineral resources have been estimated using a constant NSR cut-off of $0.01/t milled. The NSR was calculated using the formula: NSR = Au grade * Recovery * (Price of Au – (1.78 + ((Price of Au – 1.78) * 0.045))) – (10.64 + 2.1874 * (S%) + 2.29) and reported in $/tonne.(4) Rounding as required by reporting guidelines may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content. (5) Tonnage and grade measurements are in metric units. Contained gold ounces are reported as troy ounces.
Exploration PotentialThe Project retains significant exploration potential. The mineral reserves are based on measured and indicated mineral resources. The inferred mineral resource containing an estimated 6.0 million ounces of gold within the resource pit shell is treated as waste but is available for conversion to a higher confidence category during mining and represents upside potential to the project economics.
There is also moderate-to-high potential for the known gold zones to extend outside the pit shell. Many of these targets are close to the pit floor in areas that could be mined without significantly increasing the strip ratio or enlarging the pit footprint. Good potential exists for discovery of significant deposits outside the current mine footprint. Several drilled prospects and other exploration targets along the 6-kilometer trend north of the resource area remain under-explored. The future impact on the Donlin project of these exploration targets depends on the location, geological complexity and capital cost. One of the larger exploration targets, named Dome, may support a stand-alone operation.
Mining and ProductionThe Project is expected to be a conventional truck-and-shovel open-pit operation. The mine life is estimated to be 27 years based on a nominal processing rate of 53,500tonnes per day.
Donlin Gold Mine Production Summary
|Total ore milled|
|Average gold grade|
|Estimated LOM gold recovery|
|Total recovered gold|
|Average annual gold production|
Plant and InfrastructureThe infrastructure for the Project includes four main development sites in remote locations: the Jungjuk port site, the mine and plant site area, the permanent camp, and the airstrip. The plant site and fuel tank farm will be on a ridge above the proposed tailings storage facility. The layout of the plant site was designed to take maximum advantage of the natural topography. The layout also provides for efficient movement of equipment and material products around the site.
Natural Gas PipelineNatural gas will be delivered to site by a 500-kilometer-long 12-inch-diameter pipeline. It will serve as the energy source for on-site power generation. This natural gas pipeline is a lower-cost alternative to the previously considered barging of diesel fuel. Operating costs include importing liquefied natural gas ("LNG”) by ship to Anchorage and total delivery costs to site which includes ship based regasification of the LNG and delivery from Anchorage to the Donlin Gold project via the pipeline. There may be an opportunity in the future to source natural gas from within Alaska.
Metallurgy and ProcessingThe ore from the Donlin Gold deposit will be crushed and then milled using semi-autogenous grinding ("SAG”) and two-stage ball mills. The gold-bearing sulphides will be recovered by flotation to produce a concentrate representing 17% of the mass with an average gold grade of 12.7 g/t. The concentrate is refractory and will be treated in an autoclave prior to cyanidation. Overall gold recovery from flotation, pressure oxidation and Carbon-in-Leach is estimated at 89.8%. Excess acid from the autoclave circuit will be neutralized with flotation tailings and slaked lime. Tailings from the process will be impounded in the tailings storage facility, which will have zero-discharge during operations with water reclaimed for re-use in the process plant.
Operating Cost EstimatesThe mine operating cost estimates incorporate costs for operating and maintenance labour, staff, and supplies for each year. Operating costs were prepared based on conditions prevailing in second quarter 2011. Pre-production costs have been capitalized and included in the capital cost estimate. A portion of mine operating costs related to waste stripping will be deferred and, therefore, excluded from the calculation of cash costs in accordance with industry standards.
Operating Cost Estimates
|G&A, community, refining & land|
|Total operating cost|
Capital Cost EstimateThe total estimated cost to design and build the Donlin Gold project is estimated at $6.7 billion, including an Owner-provided mining fleet and Owner-performed pre-development. The Feasibility Study capital cost estimate was developed in accordance with Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering ("AACE”) Class3 requirements, consisting of semi-detailed unit costs and assembly line items. The level of accuracy for the estimate is -15% /+30% of estimated final costs, per AACE Class3 definition.
The contingency provided in the capital cost estimate is significant at $984 million representing 25% of direct costs. The contingency was selected to provide an 85% probability of the capital cost being at or below the provided estimate. This is an increase in confidence limit from the previous feasibility study which utilized a 50% probability factor. The anticipated timeline for mine construction is four years with the capital investment peaking in the third year of the construction schedule. This estimate includes all costs, including Owner's costs and permitting, from January 1, 2012.
Capital Cost Estimates
|Utilities (including natural gas pipeline)|
|Total Direct Costs|
|Total Indirect & Contingency|
|Total Project Cost|
(1) Exchange rate of C$1.10:US$1.00.
Sustaining CapitalSustaining capital requirements total $1,504 million over the life of mine. Significant areas include $649 million to replace and supplement mobile mining and support equipment and $631 million for periodic tailings storage facility capacity expansions.
Mineral Tenure and Land Use
The Donlin Gold deposit is located on Calista Corporation ("Calista”) mineral lands and the project operates under a mining lease with Calista. Calista is one of 13 regional Alaska Native corporations established as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act ("ANCSA”) of 1971 and under ANCSA has title to the subsurface estate in the region. The mining lease agreement provides Calista with payments, royalties and economic development rights.
ANCSA established the Kuskokwim Corporation ("TKC”) and the owner of the surface rights estate. Donlin Gold operates under a surface use agreement with TKC. Donlin Gold is negotiating a restructuring of the TKC agreement. The surface use agreement provides TKC with payments for lands used and protection of subsistence activities.
Other lands required for offsite infrastructure, such as required for the Jungjuk port site, road to the port site and gas pipeline are categorized as Native, State of Alaska conveyed, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM or Federal) lands. Rights-of-way will be required from the State and BLM for the road and pipeline alignments where they cross state and federal lands, respectively.
Environmental Assessment, Permitting and Closure/ReclamationSince the beginning of NovaGold's work at Donlin Gold, baseline environmental studies have occurred. At the same time, a comprehensive program of coordinating with the Federal and State permitting agencies as well as meeting with village representatives has been conducted. This work has allowed Donlin Gold to anticipate and plan for many of the potential issues that could arise in the permitting process. Overall, the proposed project has been designed to address these issues and minimize environmental impacts from construction through closure. The Company is anticipating the formal initiation of the environmental impact assessment and permitting processes by April 2012. In October 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU”) was signed with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, which will be the lead agency for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA”). This MOU provides the framework for preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS”). NovaGold believes that the EIS and permitting processes for the Donlin Gold Project can be completed over a three-to-four-year period.
Both Barrick and NovaGold have considerable experience in permitting projects within Alaska and throughout the United States, and Donlin Gold will draw on their experience in order to efficiently manage the permitting process. The permitting of the proposed mine, natural gas pipeline, and port facilities will be fully integrated. Donlin Gold will continue to focus on community and stakeholder relations as it advances through the permitting process toward a construction decision on the project.
Reclamation plans for the project include land reclamation, construction of the water treatment plant, long-term monitoring; and an associated facility and access maintenance. All associated reclamation costs are included in the financial analysis.
Feasibility Project Management and ContributionsThe Feasibility Study was compiled by AMEC. The independent Technical Report and resource/reserve estimates have been prepared in accordance with the Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects as defined by National Instrument 43-101 of the Canadian Securities Administrators. Kirk Hanson, P.E., Technical Director, Open Pit Mining, North America, (AMEC, Reno), Gordon Seibel, R.M. SME., Principal Geologist, (AMEC, Reno), Tony Lipiec, P.Eng. Manager Process Engineering (AMEC, Vancouver) are the Qualified Persons responsible for preparation of the independent technical report, and have verified that the data from their technical report is fairly and accurately disclosed in this news release.
Scientific and technical information not directly summarized from the contents of the technical report was reviewed and approved by Kevin Francis, SME Registered Member, VP, Resources for NovaGold and a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.
Readers are cautioned that the conclusions, projections and estimates set out in this press release are subject to important qualifications, assumptions and exclusions, all of which are detailed in the Report. To fully understand the summary information set out above, the Report that will be filed on SEDAR and on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR databases should be read in its entirety.
NovaGold will host a conference call in relation to the Donlin Gold Feasibility Study Update at2.00 pm EST (11.00 am PST) on Monday, December 5, 2011Webcast details: www.novagold.net or www.meetview.com/novagoldConference call details: 1-866-212-4491 (North America) / 416-800-1066 (International)Password: NovaGoldConference call replay details: 1-866-583-1035 / PIN: 4127016#