Form 10-K NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC For: Nov 30

January 26, 2022 5:25 PM EST

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ng20211130_10k.htm
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the Fiscal Year Ended November 30, 2021

 

OR

 

 TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the Transition Period from to

 

Commission File Number: 001-31913

 

logo.jpg

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

British Columbia

N/A

(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)

 (I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

  

 201 South Main Street, Suite 400
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

 84111

 (Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 (Zip Code)

 

(801) 639-0511
(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Shares

NG

NYSE American

Toronto Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐

 

 

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one)

 

Large accelerated filer ☒ 

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer ☐

Smaller reporting company  

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No ☒

 

Based on the last sale price on the NYSE American of the registrant’s common shares on May 31, 2021 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter) of $10.26 per share, the aggregate market value of the voting common shares held by non-affiliates was approximately $2,500,640,000.

 

As of January 19, 2022, the registrant had 332,921,907 common shares, no par value, outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Certain portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than April 1, 2022, in connection with the registrant’s fiscal year 2021 annual meeting of shareholders, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 

2

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Page

 

PART I

8

Item 1.

Business

8

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

14

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

24

Item 2.

Properties

 25

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

43

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

43

PART II

44

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

44

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)

47

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

53

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

54

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

72

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

72

Item 9B.

Other Information

72

PART III

73

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

73

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

73

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters

73

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

75

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

75

PART IV

76

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

76

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

78

 

 

 

 

3

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Unless the context otherwise requires, the words we, us, our, the Company and NOVAGOLD refer to NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC., a British Columbia corporation, and its subsidiaries as of November 30, 2021.

 

CURRENCY

 

References in this report to $ refer to United States currency and C$ to Canadian currency.

 

See the “Glossary of Technical Terms” for more information regarding some of the terms used in this report.

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements or information within the meaning of Canadian securities laws and the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 concerning anticipated results and developments in our operations in future periods, planned exploration activities, the adequacy of our financial resources and other events or conditions that may occur in the future. These forward-looking statements may include statements regarding perceived merit of properties, exploration results and budgets, mineral reserves and resource estimates, work programs, capital expenditures, operating costs, cash flow estimates, production estimates and similar statements relating to the economic viability of a project, timelines, strategic plans, including our plans and expectations relating to the Donlin Gold project, permitting and the timing thereof, market prices for precious metals, or other statements that are not statements of fact. These statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable and assumptions of management. Statements concerning mineral resource estimates may also be deemed to constitute “forward-looking statements” to the extent that they involve estimates of the mineralization that will be encountered if the property is developed.

 

Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, identified by words or phrases such as “expects”, “is expected”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “plans”, “projects”, “estimates”, “assumes”, “intends”, “strategy”, “goals”, “objectives”, “potential”, “possible” or variations thereof or stating that certain actions, events, conditions or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “should”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved, or the negative of any of these terms and similar expressions) are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements.

 

Forward-looking statements are based on a number of material assumptions, including those listed below, which could prove to be significantly incorrect:

 

 

our ability to achieve production at the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

estimated capital costs, operating costs, production and economic returns;

 

 

estimated metal pricing, metallurgy, mineability, marketability and operating and capital costs, together with other assumptions underlying our resource and reserve estimates;

 

 

our expected ability to develop adequate infrastructure and that the cost of doing so will be reasonable;

 

 

assumptions that all necessary permits and governmental approvals will be obtained and retained, and the timing of such approvals;

 

 

assumptions made in the interpretation of drill results, the geology, grade and continuity of our mineral deposits;

 

 

our expectations regarding demand for equipment, skilled labor and services needed for the Donlin Gold project; and

 

 

our activities will not be adversely disrupted or impeded by development, operating or regulatory risks.

 

Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation:

 

 

uncertainty of whether there will ever be production at the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

our history of losses and expectation of future losses;

 

 

risks related to our ability to finance the development of the Donlin Gold project through external financing, strategic alliances, the sale of property interests or otherwise;

 

 

uncertainty of estimates of capital costs, operating costs, production and economic returns;

 

 

commodity price fluctuations;

 

 

risks related to market events and general economic conditions;

 

 

risks related to the coronavirus global health pandemic (COVID-19);

 

 

risks related to the third parties on which we depend for Donlin Gold project activities;

 

 

dependence on cooperation of joint venture partners in exploration and development of the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

4

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

 

risks related to opposition to our operations at our mineral exploration and development properties from non-governmental organizations or civil society;

 

 

the risk that permits and governmental approvals necessary to develop and operate the Donlin Gold project will not be available on a timely basis, subject to reasonable conditions, or at all;

 

 

risks and uncertainties relating to the interpretation of drill results, the geology, grade and continuity of our mineral deposits;

 

 

uncertainties relating to the assumptions underlying our resource and reserve estimates, such as metal pricing, metallurgy, mineability, marketability and operating and capital costs;

 

 

risks related to the inability to develop or access the infrastructure required to construct and operate the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

uncertainty related to title to the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

mining and development risks, including risks related to infrastructure, accidents, equipment breakdowns, labor disputes or other unanticipated difficulties with, or interruptions in, development, construction or production;

 

 

competition in the mining industry;

 

 

risks related to governmental regulation and permits, including environmental regulation;

 

 

risks related to our largest shareholder;

 

 

risks related to conflicts of interests of some of the directors and officers of the Company;

 

 

risks related to the need for reclamation activities on our properties and uncertainty of cost estimates related thereto;

 

 

credit, liquidity, interest rate and currency risks;

 

 

risks related to increases in demand for equipment, skilled labor and services needed for exploration and development of the Donlin Gold project, and related cost increases;

 

 

our need to attract and retain qualified management and technical personnel;

 

 

uncertainty as to the outcome of potential litigation;

 

 

risks related to information technology systems;

 

 

risks related to the Company’s status as a “passive foreign investment company” in the United States; and

 

 

risks related to the effects of global climate change on the Donlin Gold project.

 

This list is not exhaustive of the factors that may affect any of our forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements about the future and are inherently uncertain, and our actual achievements or other future events or conditions may differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements due to a variety of risks, uncertainties and other factors, including, without limitation, those referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere.

 

Our forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are based on the beliefs, expectations and opinions of management as of the date of this report. We do not assume any obligation to update forward-looking statements if circumstances or management’s beliefs, expectations or opinions should change, except as required by law. For the reasons set forth above, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

 

 

 

5

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS

 

The following technical terms defined in this section are used throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

alluvial

A placer formed by the action of running water, as in a stream channel or alluvial fan; also said of the valuable mineral (e.g. gold or diamond) associated with an alluvial placer.

   

arsenopyrite 

An arsenic iron sulfide mineral (FeAsS).

   

assay

A metallurgical analysis used to determine the quantity (or grade) of various metals in a sample.

   

concentrate

A clean product recovered in flotation, which has been upgraded sufficiently for downstream processing or sale.

   

cut-off grade

When determining economically viable mineral reserves, the lowest grade of mineralized material that can be mined and processed at a profit.

   

cyanidation

A metallurgical technique, using a dilute cyanide solution, for extracting gold from ore by dissolving the gold into solution.

   

dike

A tabular igneous intrusion that cuts across the bedding of the host rock.

   

doré

A semi-pure alloy of gold and silver.

   

electrowinning

The deposition of gold from solution to cathodes by passing electric current from anodes through gold-bearing solution.

   

flotation

A process used for the concentration of minerals, especially within base metal systems.

   

geotechnical

Said of tasks or analysis that provide representative data of the geological rock quality in a known volume.

   

grade

Quantity of metal or mineral per unit weight of host rock.

   

greywacke

A variety of sandstone generally characterized by its hardness, dark color, and poorly sorted angular grains of quartz, feldspar, and small rock fragments set in a compact, clay-fine matrix.

   

host rock

A body of rock serving as a host for other rocks or for mineral deposits.

   

hydrothermal

Pertaining to hot aqueous solutions of magmatic origin which may transport metals and minerals in solution.

   

intrusive

Said of igneous rock formed by the consolidation of magma intruded into other rocks.

   

mafic 

Igneous rocks composed mostly of dark, iron- and magnesium-rich minerals.

   

massive

Said of a mineral deposit, especially of sulfides, characterized by a great concentration of mineralization in one place, as opposed to a disseminated or vein-like deposit.

   

mineral

A naturally formed chemical element or compound having a definite chemical composition and, usually, a characteristic crystal form.

   

mineral deposit

A mineralized body which has been physically delineated by sufficient drilling, trenching, and/or underground work, and found to contain a sufficient average grade of metal or metals to warrant further exploration and/or development expenditures.

   

mineralization

A natural occurrence in rocks or soil of one or more yielding minerals or metals.

   

net present value (NPV) 

The sum of the value on a given date of a series of future cash payments and receipts, discounted to reflect the time value of money and other factors such as investment risk.

   

ore

Rock containing metallic or non-metallic materials that can be mined and processed at a profit.

   

placer

An alluvial deposit of sand and gravel, which may contain valuable metals.

   

porphyry

An igneous rock of any composition that contains conspicuous phenocrysts (large crystals or mineral grains) in a fine-grained groundmass.

   

pyrite

An iron sulfide mineral (FeS2), the most common naturally occurring sulfide mineral.

   

pyrrhotite

An unusual, generally weakly magnetic, iron sulfide mineral with varying iron content (Fe1-xS (x=0 to 0.2)).

   

reverse circulation (RC)

A type of drilling using dual-walled drill pipe in which the material drilled, water and mud are circulated up the center pipe while air is blown down the outside pipe.

   

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

realgar

An arsenic sulfide mineral (As4S4).

   

reclamation

Restoration of mined land to original contour, use, or condition where possible.

   

rhyodacite

A volcanic, high-silica rock composed of mostly quartz and feldspar.

   

sedimentary

Said of rock formed at the Earth’s surface from solid particles, whether mineral or organic, which have been moved from their position of origin and re-deposited, or chemically precipitated.

   

shale

A fine-grained detrital (transported by wind, water, or ice) sedimentary rock, formed by the consolidation of clay, silt, or mud.

   

sill

An intrusive sheet of igneous rock of roughly uniform thickness that has been forced between the bedding planes of existing rock.

   

stibnite

An antimony sulfide mineral (Sb2S3).

   

strike

The direction, or bearing from true north, of a vein or rock formation measured on a horizontal surface.

   

sulfide

A compound of sulfur and some other metallic element.

   

syngenetic

Relating to or denoting a mineral deposit or formation produced at the same time as the host rock.

   

tailings

Uneconomic material produced by a mineral processing plant which is disposed of in a manner meeting government regulation and which may involve a permanent impoundment facility or which may involve the discharge of material to the environment in a manner regulated by the government authority.

   

vein

A thin, sheet-like crosscutting body of hydrothermal mineralization, principally quartz.

   

waste rock

Barren or submarginal rock that has been mined but is not of sufficient value to warrant treatment and is therefore removed ahead of the milling processes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

 

Overview

 

We operate in the gold mining industry, primarily focused on advancing the Donlin Gold project in Alaska. The Donlin Gold project is held by Donlin Gold LLC (“Donlin Gold”), a limited liability company owned equally by wholly-owned subsidiaries of NOVAGOLD and Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”).

 

We do not produce gold or any other minerals, and do not currently generate operating earnings. Funding to explore our mineral properties and to operate the Company was acquired primarily through previous equity financings consisting of public offerings of our common shares and warrants and through debt financing consisting of convertible notes, and the sale of assets. We expect to continue to raise capital through additional equity and/or debt financings, through the exercise of stock options, and otherwise.

 

We were incorporated by memorandum of association on December 5, 1984, under the Companies Act (Nova Scotia) as 1562756 Nova Scotia Limited. On January 14, 1985, we changed our name to NovaCan Mining Resources (l985) Limited and on March 20, 1987, we changed our name to NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. On May 29, 2013, our shareholders approved the continuance of the corporation into British Columbia. Subsequently, we filed the necessary documents in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and we continued under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) effective as of June 10, 2013. The current addresses, telephone and facsimile numbers of our offices are:

 

Executive office

Corporate office

201 South Main Street, Suite 400

400 Burrard Street, Suite 1860

Salt Lake City, UT, USA 84111

Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 3A6

Telephone (801) 639-0511

Toll free (866) 669-6227

Facsimile (801) 649-0509

Facsimile (604) 669-6272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Corporate Structure

 

As of November 30, 2021, we had the following material, direct and indirect, wholly-owned subsidiaries: NOVAGOLD Resources Alaska, Inc., NOVAGOLD US Holdings Inc., NOVAGOLD USA, Inc., AGC Resources Inc, NOVAGOLD (Bermuda) Alaska Limited and NOVAGOLD Resources (Bermuda) Limited.

 

The following chart depicts the corporate structure of the Company together with the jurisdiction of incorporation of each of our material subsidiaries and related holding companies. All ownership is 100% unless otherwise indicated.

 

corp.jpg

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Human Capital Resources

 

On November 30, 2021, we had 14 full-time employees, of which four are located in Canada and ten are located in the United States. We also use consultants with specific skills to assist with various aspects of project evaluation, engineering, and corporate governance.

 

Company Values

 

Our company culture is the cornerstone of all our human capital programs. Empowering every employee to be their best, affording every employee the opportunity to make a difference, and giving every employee a chance to be heard are core Company values. Our values extend to the communities in which we work. We have adopted a Human Rights Policy focused on our commitment to having a positive influence in the communities where we operate which includes ensuring that we respect human rights.

 

Diversity

 

As of the end of fiscal year 2021, 43% of our total workforce were women. Selection of individuals for executive and other positions with the Company is guided by the Company’s policy which “prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or age.” Our Board and management acknowledge the importance of all aspects of diversity including gender, ethnic origin, business skills and experience, because it is right to do so and because it is good for our business. When considering candidates for executive positions, the Board’s evaluation considers the broadest possible assessment of each candidate’s skills and background with the overriding objective of ensuring that we have the appropriate balance of skills, experience, and capacity that the Company needs to be successful. In the context of this overriding objective, we have determined not to set targets for the percentage of women, or other aspects of diversity, in executive officer positions.

 

NOVAGOLD is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our employees are one of the most valuable assets we have. The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities, and talent that our employees invest in their work represents a significant part of our culture, reputation, and NOVAGOLD’s achievements.

 

NOVAGOLD is dedicated to creating an inclusive work environment for everyone. We embrace and celebrate the unique experiences, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds that each employee brings to our workplace. NOVAGOLD strives to foster an environment where our employees feel respected, valued and empowered, and our team members are at the forefront in helping us promote and sustain an inclusive workplace.

 

NOVAGOLD’s diversity initiatives are applicable—but not limited—to our practices and policies on recruitment and selection; compensation and benefits; professional development and training; promotions; and the ongoing development of a work environment built on the premise of gender and diversity equity. To that end, we seek out qualified diverse candidates to encourage them to apply for open positions, either from within or outside of the company. We also seek out opportunities to develop a pipeline of qualified diverse candidates in a particular profession when we are unable to find them ourselves.

 

We encourage:

 

 

Respectful communication and cooperation among all employees.

 

 

Teamwork and employee participation, fostering the representation of all employee perspectives.

 

 

Work/life balance through flexible work schedules to accommodate employees’ varying needs.

 

 

Learning about and, where appropriate, providing assistance in the communities near NOVAGOLD’s projects to promote a greater understanding and respect for diversity in those communities.

 

In 2021, the Company established and funded the NOVAGOLD Mining and Geological Engineering Scholarship at the University of Alaska to help support and encourage undergraduate students seeking bachelor’s degrees in Mining or Geological Engineering, with a focus on supporting underrepresented students.

 

Safety and Health

 

NOVAGOLD’s primary objective is to ensure the health and safety of its employees, partners, and contractors, and is reflected in its Health and Safety Policy. The Company has implemented COVID-19 policies at its offices in Salt Lake City and Vancouver designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and the people associated with them. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to reduce risk, our employees have been encouraged to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, have been asked to work remotely, avoid all non-essential travel, adhere to good hygiene practices, and engage in physical distancing. Our focus on safety is also reflected at Donlin Gold where a wide-ranging set of policies were implemented at the Donlin Gold project site and Anchorage office to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Also see section Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, below.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Recent Developments

 

The Company has elected to early adopt the mining disclosure standards of Subpart 229.1300 of Regulation S-K Disclosure by Registrants Engaged in Mining Operations (“S-K 1300”). The Company will be subject to and required to disclose mineral resources and mineral reserves in accordance with S-K 1300. While the S-K 1300 rules are similar to National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) rules in Canada, they are not identical and therefore two reports have been produced for the Donlin Gold project. The information in Item 2, Properties, below is common to both reports and contains pertinent information required under S-K 1300.

 

Donlin Gold Technical Report (NI 43-101)

 

The Company retained Wood Canada Limited (“Wood”) to update content in its previously filed “Donlin Creek Gold Project, Alaska, USA, NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Second Updated Feasibility Study,” effective November 18, 2011, and amended January 20, 2012 (“2011 Mining Study”). Wood completed an exercise to verify which content in the 2011 Mining Study remains current, and what was required to update the report content with the latest information. Updated content includes operating costs, capital costs, tax rates, long term gold price, and the economic analysis. Additionally, work done on the property since 2011 with respect to exploration, drilling, permitting, and minor mine design changes as a result of recent permitting activities are summarized in the updated content. A data verification exercise was completed by each Wood Qualified Person (“QP”) co-authoring the report. This included a September 2020 site visit by two of the report QPs; review of the geologic data, geologic model, and resource model; review of metallurgical test work; review of designs for mining, processing, and infrastructure, including minor design updates; update of capital and operating cost estimates utilizing a combination of cost indices and vendor quotations; and an updated economic analysis. Canadian NI 43-101 Definitions and CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (“CIM Definition Standards”), adopted by CIM Council on May 10, 2014 apply for this exercise.

 

The Wood review determined that the report updating exercise resulted in no material change to the Mineral Resources or Mineral Reserves. On August 31, 2021, the Company voluntarily filed an updated NI 43-101 technical report for the Donlin Gold project in Alaska, USA, and titled “NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, USA,” with an effective date of June 1, 2021 (“2021 Technical Report”) reflecting the results of the above exercise. The 2021 Technical Report was prepared by Wood and the following contributors, each of whom is a QP under NI 43-101: Henry Kim, P.Geo., Senior Resource Geologist, Wood Canada Limited; Mike Woloschuk, P.Eng., VP Global Business Development & Consulting, Wood Group USA, Inc.; and Kirk Hanson, MBA, P.E., Technical Director, Open Pit Mining, Wood Group USA, Inc. The 2021 Technical Report is available on the Company’s website and on EDGAR at www.sec.gov and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

 

Donlin Gold Technical Report Summary (S-K 1300)

 

The Company is a registrant with the SEC and is reporting its exploration results, Mineral Resources, and Mineral Reserves using the mining disclosure standards of S-K 1300. The Company requested that Wood Canada Limited (“Wood”) prepare a Technical Report Summary of the Donlin Gold project, Alaska, USA using the standards of S-K 1300 and it is titled “S-K 1300 Technical Report Summary on the Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, USA” (“S-K 1300 Report”), current as of November 30, 2021, with a report date of November 30, 2021. Wood prepared the S-K 1300 Report from the 2011 Mining Study of the Donlin deposits that was completed to at least pre-feasibility level, as defined by S-K 1300, at the time of the study. Material aspects of the 2011 Mining Study were updated by Wood in 2020 and made current. As part of the update process, Wood’s subject matter experts completed an exercise to verify and update the content of the 2011 Mining Study with the latest information under the supervision of Wood’s independent QP co-authors of the S-K 1300 Report. Updated content includes operating costs, capital costs, taxes, forecast long term gold price and the economic analysis. Additionally, work done since 2011 on the property with respect to exploration, drilling, permitting and minor project design changes as a result of recent permitting activities are summarized in the S-K 1300 Report. A data verification exercise was completed by each Wood QP co-authoring the S-K 1300 Report. Wood QPs verified that the updated content of the 2011 Mining Study met at least pre-feasibility level of study as defined in S-K 1300, and it supports the disclosure of exploration results, Mineral Resources, and Mineral Reserves using S-K 1300 standards.

 

Results of the Donlin Gold Technical Report (NI 43-101) and Donlin Gold Technical Report Summary (S-K 1300)

 

Wood reviewed the geologic and resource models that supported the 2011 Mining Study, including comparing them to data from recent drilling programs, and determined that they continue to be adequate and suitable to be used for a Mineral Resource estimation. Using updated cost inputs from the first calendar quarter of 2020, a gold price of $1,500 per ounce, and the geologic and resource models utilized in support of the 2011 Mining Study, the contents within an updated optimized pit shell did not show a material change to the Mineral Resources stated in the 2011 Mining Study. Therefore, the Mineral Resources are considered current as of November 30, 2021 and are unchanged. They continue to have an effective date of July 11, 2011.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Similarly, using updated cost inputs, a gold price of $1,200 per ounce, and the geologic and resource models utilized in support of the 2011 Mining Study with appropriate modifying factors applied for Mineral Reserve estimation, the previous Mineral Reserve ultimate pit was contained within an updated optimized pit shell. Therefore, the Mineral Reserves remain current as of November 30, 2021 and are unchanged. Because the Mineral Reserves are supported by an updated economic analysis they have an effective date of April 27, 2021.

 

Outside of verifying the Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve estimates, the primary efforts in the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report were financial and permitting updates. This includes updates to estimated capital costs, operating costs, reclamation and closure costs, royalties, taxes, and economic analysis, as well as current status of the permits. Updated capital costs are based on first calendar quarter 2020 pricing (cost indices and current commodity pricing and equipment quotes) applied to the engineering designs and material take-offs from the 2011 Mining Study, except for minor changes made during permitting in the operations water treatment plant and the natural gas pipeline. As a result of the content updates, the total initial capital cost estimate is $7,402 million, which is an increase of 10.8% or $723 million compared to the 2011 Mining Study total initial capital cost estimate. Likewise, the total sustaining capital estimate is $1,723 million, which is an increase of 14.6% or $219 million compared to the 2011 Mining Study total sustaining capital estimate. The 2011 Mining Study operating costs were updated to first calendar quarter 2020 by updating key cost drivers like energy, labor, consumables, and freight. No material changes to project designs, schedules, or productivities were made; consequently, the manning schedules and consumables remain unchanged. The updated estimated LOM operating costs total $19,289 million, which is $5.90/t mined, $38.21/t processed, or $635/oz gold sold.

 

The economic evaluation of the Donlin Gold project in both the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report was updated using the following inputs:

 

 

A production plan based on the 2011 Mining Study of 53,500 t/d open pit gold mine with ore processing by means of flotation, pressure oxidation, and cyanidation. The pit designs and Mineral Reserves were based on the Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource estimates that were verified as remaining current. Annual LOM gold production averages 1.13 million ounces per year over a production life of 27 years, including 1.46 million ounces per year for the first five full years of production.

 

 

$1,500/oz gold price

 

 

Current land and royalty agreements

 

 

Initial and sustaining capital costs, and operating costs updated to first calendar quarter 2020

 

 

Tax payments in accordance with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) enacted in December 2017 and effective January 1, 2018

 

 

$292 million LOM contributions for reclamation, closure, and financial assurance

 

 

Financing has been assumed on a 100%, all equity, stand-alone basis

 

 

Escalation/inflation has been excluded

 

 

No salvage is assumed at the end of operations

 

Based on the economic evaluation, the Donlin Gold project generates positive before and after-tax economic results. Total after-tax cash flow is $13,145 million, after-tax NPV at a 5% discount rate is $3,040 million, and the after-tax internal rate of return is 9.2%. After-tax payback is achieved 7.3 years following the start of production.

 

Donlin Gold project

 

In 2021, Donlin Gold completed a 79-hole drilling program totaling approximately 24,264 meters in both the ACMA and Lewis deposit areas. The primary objective of the program was to validate recent geologic modeling concepts and test for extensions of high-grade zones in both intrusive (igneous) and sedimentary rocks. Assays are pending and will be disclosed in 2022.

 

For further information, see section Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, below.

 

Reclamation

 

We will generally be required to mitigate long-term environmental impacts by stabilizing, contouring, re-sloping and re-vegetating various portions of a site after mining and mineral processing operations are completed. These reclamation efforts will be conducted in accordance with detailed plans, which are approved by the appropriate regulatory agencies. In addition, financial assurance acceptable to the regulatory authority with jurisdiction over reclamation must be provided in an amount that the authority determines to be sufficient to allow the authority to implement the approved reclamation plan in the event that the project owners fail to complete the work as provided in the plan.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Government and Environmental Regulations

 

Our exploration and development activities are subject to various national, state, and local laws and regulations in the United States, which govern prospecting, development, mining, production, exports, taxes, labor standards, occupational health, waste disposal, protection of the environment, mine safety, hazardous substances, disclosure requirements and other matters. We have obtained or have pending applications for those licenses, permits or other authorizations currently required to conduct our exploration and development programs. We believe that we are in compliance in all material respects with applicable mining, health, safety and environmental statutes and regulations in the United States. There are no current orders or directions relating to us with respect to the foregoing laws and regulations. For a more detailed discussion of the various government laws and regulations applicable to our operations and potential negative effects of these laws and regulations, see section Item 1A, Risk Factors, below.

 

Competition

 

We compete with other mineral resource exploration and development companies for financing, technical expertise, and the acquisition of mineral properties. Many of the companies with whom we compete have greater financial and technical resources. Accordingly, these competitors may be able to spend greater amounts on the acquisition, exploration, and development of mineral properties. This competition could adversely impact our ability to finance further exploration and to obtain the financing necessary for us to develop the Donlin Gold project.

 

 

Availability of Raw Materials and Skilled Employees

 

Most aspects of our business require specialized skills and knowledge. Such skills and knowledge include the areas of geology, drilling, resource estimating, metallurgy, mine planning, logistical planning, preparation of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, permitting, engineering, construction and operation of a mine, financing, legal, accounting, investor relations, and community relations. Historically, we have found that we can locate and retain appropriate employees and consultants and we believe we will continue to be able to do so.

 

The raw materials we require to carry on our business are readily available through normal supply or business contracting channels in the United States and Canada. Historically, we have been able to secure the appropriate equipment and supplies required to conduct our contemplated programs. As a result, we do not believe that we will experience any shortages of required equipment or supplies in the foreseeable future.

 

Seasonality

 

Our business can be seasonal as our mineral exploration and development activities take place in southwestern Alaska. Due to the northern climate, work on the Donlin Gold project can be limited due to excessive snow cover and cold temperatures. In general, surface work often is limited to late spring through early fall, although work in some locations is more readily and efficiently completed during the winter months when the ground is frozen.

 

Gold Price History

 

The price of gold is volatile and is affected by numerous factors, all of which are beyond our control, such as the sale or purchase of gold by various central banks and financial institutions, inflation, recession, fluctuation in the relative values of the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies, changes in global and regional gold demand, in addition to international and national political and economic conditions.

 

The following table presents the annual high, low and average daily afternoon London Bullion Market Association (“LBMA”) Gold Price over the past five calendar years on the London Bullion Market ($/ounce):

 

Year

 

High

   

Low

   

Average

 

2017

  $ 1,346     $ 1,151     $ 1,257  

2018

  $ 1,355     $ 1,178     $ 1,269  

2019

  $ 1,546     $ 1,271     $ 1,392  

2020

  $ 2,067     $ 1,474     $ 1,770  

2021

  $ 1,943     $ 1,684     $ 1,799  

2022 (through January 19)

  $ 1,827     $ 1,789     $ 1,812  

 

On January 19, 2022, the afternoon LBMA gold price was $1,827 per ounce.

 

Data Source: www.kitco.com

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Available Information

 

We maintain a website at www.novagold.com and make available, through the Investors section of the website, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, Section 16 filings and all amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). These reports are also available at the SEC website at www.sec.gov. Certain other information, including but not limited to the Company’s Corporate Governance Guidelines, the charters of key committees of its Board of Directors and its Code of Business Conduct and Ethics are also available on the website. Our website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be, and are not incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Item 1A.

 Risk Factors

 

You should carefully consider the following risk factors in addition to the other information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Each of these risk factors could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition, as well as adversely affect the value of an investment in our common shares. The risks described below are not the only ones facing the Company. Additional risks that we are not presently aware of, or that we currently believe are immaterial, may also adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. We cannot assure you that we will successfully address these risks and caution that other unknown risks may exist or may arise that may affect our business.

 

An investment in our securities is speculative and involves a high degree of risk due to the nature of our business and the present stage of exploration and development of our mineral properties. The following risk factors, as well as risks not currently known to us, could materially adversely affect our future business, operations and financial condition and could cause them to differ materially from the estimates described in the forward-looking statements relating to us.

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

We have no history of commercially producing precious metals from our mineral exploration properties and there can be no assurance that we will successfully establish mining operations or profitably produce precious metals.

 

The Donlin Gold project is not in production or currently under construction, and we have no ongoing mining operations or revenue from mining operations. Mineral exploration and development has a high degree of risk and few properties that are explored are ultimately developed into producing mines. The future development of the Donlin Gold project will require obtaining permits and financing and the construction and operation of mines, processing plants and related infrastructure. As a result, we are subject to all of the risks associated with establishing new mining operations and business enterprises, including:

 

 

the need to obtain necessary environmental and other governmental approvals and permits, and the timing and conditions of those approvals and permits;

 

 

the availability and cost of funds to finance construction and development activities;

 

 

the timing and cost, which can be considerable, of the construction of mining and processing facilities as well as related infrastructure;

 

 

potential opposition from non-governmental organizations, environmental groups or local groups which may delay or prevent development activities;

 

 

potential increases in construction and operating costs due to changes in the cost of labor, fuel, power, materials and supplies, services, and foreign exchange rates;

 

 

the availability and cost of skilled labor and mining equipment; and

 

 

the availability and cost of appropriate smelting and/or refining arrangements.

 

The costs, timing and complexities of mine construction and development are increased by the remote location of our mineral properties, with additional challenges related thereto, including access, water and power supply, and other support infrastructure. Cost estimates may increase significantly as more detailed engineering work and studies are completed on a project. New mining operations commonly experience unexpected costs, problems and delays during development, construction, and mine start-up. In addition, delays in the commencement of mineral production often occur. Accordingly, there are no assurances that our activities will result in profitable mining operations, or that we will successfully establish mining operations, or profitably produce precious metals at the Donlin Gold project.

 

In addition, there is no assurance that our mineral exploration activities will result in any discoveries of new ore bodies. If further mineralization is discovered there is also no assurance that the mineralized material would be economical for commercial production. Discovery of mineral deposits is dependent upon a number of factors and significantly influenced by the technical skill of the exploration personnel involved. The commercial viability of a mineral deposit is also dependent upon a number of factors which are beyond our control, including the attributes of the deposit, commodity prices, government policies and regulation, and environmental protection requirements.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

We have a history of net losses and expect losses to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

We have a history of net losses and we expect to incur net losses for the foreseeable future. The Donlin Gold project has not advanced to the commercial production stage and we have no history of earnings or cash flow from operations. We expect to continue to incur net losses unless and until such time the Donlin Gold project commences commercial production and generates sufficient revenues to fund continuing operations. The development of our mineral properties to achieve production will require the commitment of substantial financial resources. The amount and timing of expenditures will depend on a number of factors, including the progress of ongoing exploration and development, the results of consultants’ analyses and recommendations, the rate at which operating losses are incurred, the process of obtaining required government permits and approvals, the availability and cost of financing, the participation of our partners, and the execution of any sale or joint venture agreements with strategic partners. These factors, and others, are beyond our control. There is no assurance that we will be profitable in the future.

 

We have a limited property portfolio.

 

At present, our only material mineral property is the interest that we hold in the Donlin Gold project. Unless we acquire or develop additional mineral properties, we will be solely dependent upon this property. If no additional mineral properties are acquired by us, any adverse development affecting our operations and further development at the Donlin Gold project may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our ability to continue the exploration, permitting, development, and construction of the Donlin Gold project, and to continue as a going concern, will depend in part on our ability to obtain suitable financing.

 

We have limited financial resources. We will need external financing to develop and construct the Donlin Gold project. According to the S-K 1300 Report, the total initial capital cost estimate for the Donlin Gold project is approximately $7,402 million which includes the costs related to the natural gas pipeline (100% basis). These cost estimates may change materially as our studies are updated. Our failure to obtain sufficient financing could result in the delay or indefinite postponement of exploration, development, construction, or production at the Donlin Gold project. The cost and terms of such financing may significantly reduce the expected benefits from development of the Donlin Gold project and/or render such development uneconomic. There can be no assurance that additional capital or other types of financing will be available when needed or that, if available, the terms of such financing will be favorable. Our failure to obtain financing could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy and results of operations and financial condition.

 

We intend to fund our business plan from working capital, the proceeds of financings, and the proceeds received from the sale of our interest in the Galore Creek project. In the future, our ability to continue our exploration, permitting, development, and construction activities, if any, will depend in part on our ability to obtain suitable financing. If we raise additional funding by issuing additional equity securities or other securities that are convertible into equity securities, such financings may substantially dilute the interest of existing or future shareholders. Sales or issuances of a substantial number of securities, or the perception that such sales could occur, may adversely affect the prevailing market price for our common shares. With any additional sale or issuance of equity securities, investors will suffer dilution of their voting power and may experience dilution in earnings per share.

 

There can be no assurance that we will commence production at the Donlin Gold project or generate sufficient revenues to meet our obligations as they become due or obtain necessary financing on acceptable terms, if at all. Our failure to meet our ongoing obligations on a timely basis could result in the loss or substantial dilution of our interests (as existing or as proposed to be acquired) in the Donlin Gold project. In addition, should we incur significant losses in future periods, we may be unable to continue as a going concern, and realization of assets and settlement of liabilities in other than the normal course of business may be at amounts materially different than our estimates.

 

Actual capital costs, operating costs, production and economic returns may differ significantly from those we have anticipated and there are no assurances that any future development activities will result in profitable mining operations.

 

The capital costs to take the Donlin Gold project into production may be significantly higher than anticipated. As a result of the content updates included in the 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report, the total initial capital cost estimate for the Donlin Gold project is $7,402 million. Likewise, the total sustaining capital estimate is $1,723 million.

 

We do not have an operating history upon which we can base estimates of future operating costs. Decisions about the development of the Donlin Gold project will ultimately be based upon feasibility studies. Feasibility studies derive estimates of cash operating costs based upon, among other things:

 

 

anticipated tonnage, grades and metallurgical characteristics of the ore to be mined and processed;

 

 

anticipated recovery rates of gold and other precious metals from the ore;

 

 

cash operating costs of comparable facilities and equipment; and

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

 

anticipated climatic conditions.

 

Capital costs, operating costs, production and economic returns, and other estimates contained in studies or estimates prepared by or for us may differ significantly from those anticipated by our current or future studies and estimates, and there can be no assurance that the initial capital costs incurred to construct, and the sustaining capital and operating costs incurred in operating the Donlin Gold project will not be higher than currently anticipated.

 

Changes in the market price of gold, which in the past has fluctuated widely, affect our financial condition.

 

Our profitability and long-term viability will depend, in large part, upon the market price of gold that may be produced from our Donlin Gold project. The market price of gold is volatile and is impacted by numerous factors beyond our control, including:

 

 

global or regional consumption patterns;

 

 

expectations with respect to the rate of inflation;

 

 

the relative strength of the U.S. dollar and certain other currencies;

 

 

interest rates;

 

 

global or regional political or economic conditions, including interest rates and currency values;

 

 

supply and demand for jewelry and industrial products containing gold; and

 

 

sales or purchases by central banks and other holders, speculators, and producers of gold in response to any of the above factors.

 

We cannot predict the effect of these factors on the price of gold. A decrease in the market price of gold could affect our ability to finance the development of the Donlin Gold project, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. There can be no assurance that the market price of gold will remain at current levels or that such prices will improve. An increase in worldwide supply, and consequent downward pressure on prices, may result over the longer term from increased production from the development of new or expansion of existing mines. There is no assurance that if commercial quantities of gold are discovered, that a profitable market may exist or continue to exist for a production decision to be made or for the ultimate sale of gold.

 

General economic conditions may adversely affect our growth, future profitability and ability to finance.

 

Some key impacts which can contribute to financial market turmoil potentially impacting the mining industry include contraction in credit markets resulting in a widening of credit risk, imposition of trade tariffs among various countries, devaluations, high volatility in global equity, commodity, foreign exchange and precious metal markets and a lack of market liquidity. The prices of gold and gold mining company equities have experienced significant volatility over the past few years.

 

A decrease in gold prices or tightening of credit in the financial markets or other economic conditions, including but not limited to, consumer spending, employment rates, business conditions, inflation, fuel and energy costs, consumer debt levels, lack of available credit, the state of the financial markets, interest rates and tax rates, may adversely affect our ability to finance development and construction of the Donlin Gold project. Specifically:

 

 

global economic conditions could make other investment sectors more attractive, thereby affecting the cost and availability of financing to us and our ability to achieve our business plan;

 

 

the imposition of protectionist or retaliatory trade tariffs by countries may impact our ability to import materials needed to construct our projects or conduct our operations, or to export our products, at prices that are economically feasible for our operations, or at all;

 

 

the volatility of metal prices would impact the economic viability of the Donlin Gold project and any future revenues, profits, losses and cash flow;

 

 

negative economic pressures could adversely impact demand for future production from the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

construction related costs could increase and adversely affect the economics of the Donlin Gold project;

 

 

volatile energy, commodity and consumables prices and currency exchange rates would impact our future production costs; and

 

 

the devaluation and volatility of global stock markets would impact the valuation of our equity and other securities.

 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may affect our operations.

 

The Company faces risks related to health epidemics/pandemics, and other outbreaks of communicable diseases, which could significantly disrupt its operations and may materially and adversely affect its business and financial conditions.

 

The Company’s business could be adversely impacted by the effects of COVID-19 or other epidemics/pandemics. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts the Company’s business, including its operations and the market for its securities, will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time, and include the duration, severity and scope of the pandemic and the actions taken to contain or treat COVID-19. In particular, the continued spread of COVID-19 could materially and negatively impact the Company’s business including without limitation, employee health, workforce productivity, insurance premiums, ability to travel, the availability of industry experts and personnel, restrictions or delays to future Donlin Gold drill and work programs and/or the timing to process drill and other metallurgical testing, and other factors that will depend on future developments beyond the Company’s control, which may have a material and adverse effect on its business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

 

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There can be no assurance that the Company's personnel will not be impacted by these epidemic/pandemic diseases and ultimately see its workforce productivity reduced and incur increased medical costs or insurance premiums due to these health risks.

 

We are dependent on a third party that participates in exploration and development of our Donlin Gold project.

 

Our success with respect to the Donlin Gold project depends on the efforts and expertise of a third party with whom we have an agreement; we hold a 50% interest and the remaining 50% interest is held by a third party that is not under our control or direction. We are dependent on that third party for the progress and development of the Donlin Gold project. The third party may also have different priorities which could impact the timing and cost of development of the Donlin Gold project. The third party may also be in default of its agreement with us, without our knowledge, which may put the mineral property and related assets at risk. The existence or occurrence of one or more of the following circumstances and events could have a material adverse impact on our ability to achieve our business plan, profitability, or the viability of our interests held with the third party, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, future cash flows, earnings, results of operations and financial condition: (i) disagreement with the third party on how to develop and operate the Donlin Gold project efficiently; (ii) inability to exert influence over certain strategic decisions made in respect of the jointly-held Donlin Gold project; (iii) inability of the third party to meet its obligations to the joint business or other parties; and (iv) litigation with the third party regarding joint business matters.

 

Opposition to our operations from local stakeholders or non-governmental organizations could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

There is ongoing public concern relating to the effect of mining production on its surroundings, communities, and environment. Local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which oppose resource development, are often vocal critics of the mining industry. While we seek to operate in a socially responsible manner, opposition to extractive industries or our operations specifically or adverse publicity generated by local communities or NGOs related to extractive industries, or our operations specifically, could have an adverse effect on our reputation and financial condition or our relationships with the communities in which we operate. As a result of such opposition or adverse publicity, we may be unable to obtain permits necessary for our operations or to continue our operations as planned or at all. See “Recent Developments” above.

 

We require various permits to conduct our current and anticipated future operations, and delays or a failure to obtain such permits, or a failure to comply with the terms of any such permits that we have obtained, could have a material adverse impact on us.

 

Our current and anticipated future operations, including further exploration and development activities and commencement of production on the Donlin Gold project, require permits from various United States federal, state, and local governmental authorities. There can be no assurance that all permits that we require for the construction of mining facilities and to conduct mining operations will be obtainable on reasonable terms, or at all. Delays or a failure to obtain such permits, or a failure to comply with the terms of any such permits that we have obtained, could have a material adverse impact on us.

 

The duration and success of efforts to obtain and renew permits are contingent upon many variables not within our control. Shortage of qualified and experienced personnel in the various levels of government could result in delays or inefficiencies. Backlog within the permitting agencies could affect the permitting timeline of the various projects. Other factors that could affect the permitting timeline include (i) the number of other large-scale projects currently in a more advanced stage of development which could slow down the review process and (ii) significant public response regarding a specific project. As well, it can be difficult to assess what specific permitting requirements will ultimately apply to the Donlin Gold project.

 

The quantities for our mineral resources and mineral reserves are estimates based on interpretation and assumptions and may yield less mineral production under actual conditions than is currently estimated.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, mineralization quantities presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other filings with securities regulatory authorities, press releases and other public statements that may be made from time to time are based upon estimates made by our personnel and independent professionals. In addition, these estimates are imprecise and depend upon geologic interpretation and statistical inferences drawn from drilling and sampling analysis, which may prove to be unreliable. There can be no assurance that:

 

 

these estimates will be accurate;

 

 

mineral reserve, mineral resource or other mineralization figures will be accurate; or

 

 

this mineralization could be mined, processed, or sold profitably.

 

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Because we have not commenced commercial production at the Donlin Gold project, mineralization estimates may require adjustments, including potential downward revisions based upon further exploration or development work, actual production experience, or changes in the price of gold. In addition, the grade of ore ultimately mined, if any, may differ from that indicated by drilling results. There can be no assurance that the percentage of minerals recovered in small-scale tests will be duplicated in large-scale tests under on-site conditions or at production scale.

 

Mineral resource estimates for mineral properties that have not commenced production are based, in many instances, on limited and widely spaced drill hole information, which is not necessarily indicative of the conditions between and around drill holes. Accordingly, such mineral resource estimates may require revision as more drilling information becomes available or as actual production experience is gained. No assurance can be given that any part or all of our mineral resources constitute or will be converted into reserves.

 

The estimating of mineral reserves and mineral resources is a subjective process that relies on the judgment and experience of the persons preparing the estimates. The process relies on the quantity and quality of available data and is based on knowledge, mining experience, analysis of drilling results and industry practices. Valid estimates made at a given time may significantly change when new information becomes available. By their nature, mineral resource and reserve estimates are imprecise and depend, to a certain extent, upon analysis of drilling results and statistical inferences that may ultimately prove to be inaccurate. There can be no assurances that actual results will meet the estimates contained in studies.

 

Estimated mineral reserves or mineral resources may have to be recalculated based on changes in metal prices, further exploration or development activity, or actual production experience. In addition, if production costs increase, recovery rates decrease, if applicable laws and regulations are adversely changed, there is no assurance that the anticipated level of recovery will be realized or that mineral reserves or mineral resources as currently reported can be mined or processed profitably. This could materially and adversely affect estimates of the volume or grade of mineralization, estimated recovery rates or other important factors that influence mineral reserve or mineral resource estimates. The extent to which mineral resources may ultimately be reclassified as mineral reserves is dependent upon the demonstration of their profitable recovery. Any material changes in mineral resource estimates and grades of mineralization will affect the economic viability of placing a mineral property into production and a mineral property’s return on capital. We cannot provide assurance that mineralization identified at the Donlin Gold project can or will be mined or processed profitably.

 

The mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been determined and valued based on assumed future prices, cut-off grades and operating costs that may prove to be inaccurate. Extended declines in market prices for gold may render portions of our mineralization uneconomic and result in reduced reported mineralization. Any material reductions in estimates of mineralization, or of our ability to extract this mineralization, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to implement our business strategy, the results of operations or our financial condition.

 

We have established the presence of proven and probable mineral reserves at the Donlin Gold project in accordance with the disclosure definition and standards contained in S-K 1300 and in NI 43-101. There can be no assurance that any mineral resource estimates for our mineral projects will ultimately be reclassified as mineral reserves. The failure to establish proven and probable mineral reserves could restrict our ability to successfully implement our strategies for long-term growth and could impact future cash flows, earnings, results of operation and financial condition.

 

Lack of infrastructure could delay or prevent us from developing advanced projects.

 

Completion of the development of the Donlin Gold project is subject to various requirements, including the availability and timing of acceptable arrangements for power, water, transportation, access, and facilities. The lack of availability on acceptable terms or the delay in the availability of any one or more of these items could prevent or delay development of the project. There can be no assurance that adequate infrastructure, including access and power supply, will be built, that it will be built in a timely manner or that the cost of such infrastructure will be reasonable or that it will be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the project. If adequate infrastructure is not available in a timely manner, there can be no assurance that:

 

 

the development of the Donlin Gold project will be commenced or completed on a timely basis, if at all;

 

 

the resulting operations will achieve the anticipated production volume; or

 

 

the construction costs and ongoing operating costs associated with the development of the Donlin Gold project will not be higher than anticipated.

 

Access to the Donlin Gold project is limited and there is no infrastructure that serves the project area. An approximately 507-kilometer natural gas pipeline is needed to supply fuel to the proposed on-site generating plant to provide power for the Donlin Gold project. The proposed pipeline would traverse generally undeveloped areas in Alaska that are difficult to access. Transportation of most of the supplies needed to construct and operate the Donlin Gold project would be accomplished by barging materials on the Kuskokwim River during the annual shipping season which typically occurs from late April to mid-October. Two ports would be needed on the Kuskokwim River, the first located in Bethel, Alaska, where ocean barges would transition materials to river barges; and the second located approximately 320 kilometers upriver from Bethel. A 48-kilometer access road from the upriver port to the project site is needed to deliver the materials. Additionally, a 1,500-meter airstrip would be built to provide year-round access to the project. Terrain, geologic conditions, ground conditions, steep slopes, river levels, ice breakup, weather, climate change impacts and other natural conditions that are beyond our control along the pipeline and transportation routes present design, permitting, construction, and operational challenges for the project. Cost and schedule estimates may increase significantly as more detailed engineering work, geotechnical and geological studies are completed.

 

 

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Title and other rights to our mineral properties are subject to agreements with other parties.

 

The subsurface mineral and surface rights at the Donlin Gold project are owned by Calista and TKC, respectively, two Native corporations. Donlin Gold operates on these lands pursuant to a Mining Lease with Calista (“Calista Lease”) and a Surface Use Agreement (“SUA”) with TKC. The ability of Donlin Gold to continue to explore and develop the Donlin Gold project depends upon its continued compliance with the terms and conditions of the Calista Lease and SUA. Furthermore, our ability to continue to explore and develop other mineral properties may be subject to agreements with other third parties, including agreements with Native corporations, for instance.

 

Our largest shareholder has significant influence on us and may also affect the market price and liquidity of our securities.

 

Electrum Strategic Resources L.P. (“Electrum”) and its affiliate GRAT Holdings LLC hold in the aggregate 25.4% of our issued and outstanding common shares as of January 19, 2022. Accordingly, Electrum and its affiliates will have significant influence in determining the outcome of any corporate transaction or other matter submitted to the shareholders for approval, including mergers, consolidations, and the sale of all or substantially all of our assets and other significant corporate actions. Unless full participation of all shareholders takes place in such shareholder meetings, Electrum and its affiliates may be able to approve such matters itself. The concentration of ownership of the common shares by Electrum and its affiliates may: (i) delay or deter a change of control of the Company; (ii) deprive shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common shares as part of a sale of the Company; and (iii) affect the market price and liquidity of the common shares. In conjunction with the January 22, 2009 financing, we provided Electrum with the right to designate an observer at all meetings of the board of directors (the “Board”) and any committee thereof so long as Electrum and its affiliates hold not less than 15% of our common shares. Electrum designated Igor Levental, President of The Electrum Group LLC, an investment advisor that manages Electrum’s investments, as its observer at our Board meetings. In July 2010, Mr. Levental was appointed to our Board. In November 2011, Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, was appointed Chairman of our Board. Dr. Kaplan is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Electrum Group LLC. As long as Electrum and its affiliates maintain its shareholdings in the Company, Electrum will have significant influence in determining the members of the Board. Without the consent of Electrum, we could be prevented from entering into transactions that are otherwise beneficial to us. The interests of Electrum and its affiliates may differ from or be adverse to the interests of our other shareholders. The effect of these rights and Electrum’s influence may impact the price that investors are willing to pay for our shares. If Electrum or its affiliates sell a substantial number of our common shares in the public market, the market price of the common shares could fall. The perception among the public that these sales will occur could also contribute to a decline in the market price of our common shares.

 

Some of the directors and officers have conflicts of interest as a result of their involvement with other natural resource companies.

 

Certain of our directors and officers also serve as directors, or have significant shareholdings in, other companies involved in natural resource exploration and development or mining-related activities. To the extent that such other companies may participate in ventures in which we may participate in or in ventures which we may seek to participate in, the directors and officers may have a conflict of interest. In all cases where the directors or officers have an interest in other companies, such other companies may also compete with us for the acquisition of mineral property investments. Any decision made by any of these directors and officers involving the Company will be made in accordance with their duties and obligations to deal fairly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Company. In addition, each of the directors is required to declare and refrain from voting on any matter in which these directors may have a conflict of interest in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) and other applicable laws. In appropriate cases, the Company will establish a special committee of independent directors to review a matter in which several directors, or management, may have a conflict. Nonetheless, as a result of these conflicts of interest, the Company may not have an opportunity to participate in certain transactions, which may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, profitability, financial condition, results of operation, and prospects.

 

We have ongoing reclamation on some of our mineral properties and may be required to fund additional work that could have a material adverse effect on our financial position.

 

Land reclamation requirements are generally imposed on mineral exploration companies (as well as companies with mining operations) in order to minimize long term effects of land disturbance. Reclamation may include requirements to:

 

 

treat ground and surface water to applicable water standards;

 

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control dispersion of potentially deleterious effluents;

 

 

reasonably re-establish pre-disturbance landforms and vegetation; and

 

 

provide adequate financial assurance to ensure required reclamation of land affected by our activities.

 

Exploration and other activities at the Donlin Gold project site have created disturbance that must be reclaimed. Financial resources spent on reclamation might otherwise be spent on further exploration and development programs. In addition, regulatory changes could increase our obligations to perform reclamation and mine closure activities. There can be no assurance that we will not be required to fund additional reclamation work at the site that could have a material adverse effect on our financial position.

 

We are exposed to credit, liquidity, and interest rate risk.

 

Credit risk is the risk of an unexpected loss if a customer or third party to a financial instrument fails to meet its contractual obligations. Our cash equivalents and term deposit investments are held through large Canadian chartered banks with high investment-grade ratings. These investments mature at various dates over the current operating period. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of our Galore Creek assets include notes receivable from a subsidiary of Newmont Corporation (“Newmont”), a publicly traded company with investment-grade credit ratings. The notes receivable included a $75 million note receivable of which payment was received on July 27, 2021 and include a $25 million note receivable upon the earlier of the completion of a Galore Creek project feasibility study or July 27, 2023. An additional $75 million will be receivable if, and when a Galore Creek project construction plan is approved by the owner(s). No value was assigned to the final $75 million contingent note receivable due to the uncertainty with regards to the approval of a Galore Creek project construction plan. The carrying amount of financial assets recorded in the financial statements, net of any allowances for losses, represents our maximum exposure to credit risk.

 

Liquidity risk is the risk that we will not be able to meet our financial obligations as they come due. We manage liquidity risk through the management of our capital structure and financial leverage. Accounts payable and accrued liabilities are due within one year from the balance sheet date.

 

Interest rate risk is the risk that the fair value or future cash flows of a financial instrument will fluctuate because of changes in market interest rates. The risk that we will realize a loss as a result of a decline in the fair value of the term deposit investments is limited because these investments have an original term of less than one year and are generally held to maturity. The promissory note owed to Barrick is variable with the U.S. prime rate. Based on the amount owing on the promissory note as of November 30, 2021, and assuming all other variables remain constant, a 1% change in the U.S. prime rate would result in an increase/decrease of $1.2 million in the interest accrued on the promissory note per annum. For more detail with respect to the promissory note, see section Item 2, Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, below.

 

Risks Related to Our Industry

 

Mining is inherently risky and subject to conditions or events some of which are beyond our control, and which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Mining involves various types of risks, including:

 

 

environmental hazards;

 

 

industrial accidents;

 

 

metallurgical and other processing problems;

 

 

unusual or unexpected geologic formations and conditions;

 

 

structural cave-ins or slides;

 

 

flooding;

 

 

fires;

 

 

power outages;

 

 

labor disruptions;

 

 

explosions;

 

 

landslides and avalanches;

 

 

mechanical equipment and facility performance problems;

 

 

availability of materials and equipment;

 

 

metals losses; and

 

 

periodic interruptions due to inclement or hazardous weather conditions.

 

These risks could result in damage to, or destruction of, mineral properties, production facilities or other properties; personal injury or death, including to employees; environmental damage; delays in construction or mining operations; increased production costs; asset write downs; monetary losses; and possible legal liability. We may not be able to obtain insurance to cover these risks at economically feasible premiums or at all. Insurance against certain environmental risks, including potential liability for pollution or other hazards as a result of the disposal of waste products occurring from mineral production, is not generally available to us or to other companies within the mining industry. We may suffer a material adverse impact on our business if we incur losses related to any significant events that are not covered by our insurance policies.

 

 

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Exploration, construction, and production activities may be limited or delayed by inclement weather and shortened exploration, construction and operating seasons. For example, Donlin Gold proposes to transport the bulk of the supplies required to operate the Donlin Gold project to the site from ports in the United States and Canada. This would require the supplies to be transported by barge on the Kuskokwim River which is free of ice and open for barge traffic for a limited period each year. Delays in the ice breakup or early freeze-up, low flow levels and water depths, or other conditions affecting the Kuskokwim River could delay or prevent Donlin Gold from transporting supplies to the site. Any such interference with the delivery of needed supplies to the Donlin Gold project could adversely affect the construction or operation of the project and/or the costs associated with these activities which, in turn, would adversely affect our business.

 

We are subject to significant governmental regulation.

 

Our operations, exploration and development activities in the United States, are subject to extensive federal, state and local laws and regulations governing various matters, including:

 

 

environmental protection;

 

 

management and use of toxic substances and explosives;

 

 

management of tailings and other wastes generated by our operations;

 

 

management of natural resources;

 

 

exploration and development of mines, production and post-closure reclamation;

 

 

exports;

 

 

price controls;

 

 

taxation and mining royalties;

 

 

regulations concerning business dealings with native groups;

 

 

availability and use of water resources;

 

 

labor standards and occupational health and safety, including mine safety; and

 

 

preservation of historic and cultural resources.

 

Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in civil or criminal fines or penalties or enforcement actions, including orders issued by regulatory or judicial authorities enjoining, curtailing or closing operations or requiring corrective measures, installation of additional equipment or remedial actions, any of which could result in us incurring significant expenditures. We may also be required to compensate private parties suffering loss or damage by reason of a breach of such laws, regulations or permitting requirements. It is also possible that future laws and regulations, or a more stringent enforcement of current laws and regulations by governmental authorities, could cause additional expense, capital expenditures, restrictions on or suspensions of our operations and delays in the exploration and development of our mineral properties.

 

Our activities are subject to environmental laws and regulations that may increase our costs of doing business and restrict our operations.

 

Our exploration, potential development and production activities in the United States are subject to regulation by governmental agencies under various environmental laws. To the extent that we conduct exploration activities or undertake new mining activities in other foreign countries, we will also be subject to environmental laws and regulations in those jurisdictions. These laws address emissions into the air, discharges into water, management of waste, management of hazardous substances, use of water, protection of natural resources, antiquities and endangered species, and reclamation of lands disturbed by mining operations. Environmental legislation and regulations continue to evolve, and the trend has been toward stricter standards and enforcement, increased fines and penalties for non-compliance, more stringent environmental assessments of proposed projects and increasing responsibility for companies and their officers, directors and employees. Compliance with environmental laws and regulations may require significant capital outlays on our behalf and may cause material changes or delays in our intended activities. There can be no assurance that future changes in environmental regulations will not adversely affect our business, and it is possible that future changes in these laws or regulations could have a significant adverse impact on some portion of our business, causing us to re-evaluate those activities at that time.

 

Environmental hazards may exist on our mineral properties that are unknown to us at the present time, and that have been caused by previous owners or operators or that may have occurred naturally. We may be liable for remediating such damage.

 

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Failure to comply with applicable environmental laws, regulations and permitting requirements may result in enforcement actions thereunder, including orders issued by regulatory or judicial authorities, causing operations to cease or to be curtailed, and may include corrective measures requiring capital expenditures, installation of additional equipment or remedial actions.

 

Our insurance will not cover all of the potential risks associated with mining operations.

 

Our business is subject to a number of risks and hazards generally including adverse environmental conditions, industrial accidents, labor disputes, unusual or unexpected geological conditions, ground or slope failures, cave-ins, changes in the regulatory environment and natural phenomena, such as inclement weather conditions, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. Such occurrences could result in damage to mineral properties or production facilities, personal injury or death, environmental damage to our properties or the property of others, delays in construction or mining, monetary losses, and possible legal liability.

 

Although we maintain insurance to protect against certain risks in such amounts as we consider reasonable, our insurance will not cover all the potential risks associated with a mining company’s operations. We may also be unable to maintain insurance to cover these risks at economically feasible premiums. Insurance coverage may not continue to be available or may not be adequate to cover any resulting liability. Moreover, insurance against risks such as loss of title to mineral property, environmental pollution, or other hazards, as a result of exploration and production is not generally available to us or to other companies in the mining industry on acceptable terms. We might also become subject to liability for pollution or other hazards which may not be insured against or which we may elect not to insure against because of premium costs or other reasons. Losses from these events may cause us to incur significant costs that could have a material adverse effect on our financial performance and results of operations.

 

Title and other rights to our mineral properties cannot be guaranteed and may be subject to prior unregistered agreements, transfers or claims and other defects.

 

We cannot guarantee that title to our mineral properties will not be challenged. We may not have, or may not be able to obtain, all necessary surface rights to develop a mineral property. Title insurance is generally not available for mineral properties and our ability to ensure that we have obtained secure claim to individual mineral properties or mining concessions may be severely constrained. Our mineral properties may be subject to prior unregistered agreements, transfers or claims, and title may be affected by, among other things, undetected defects. We have not conducted surveys of all the mineral properties in which we hold direct or indirect interests. A successful challenge to the precise area and location of these mineral properties could result in us being unable to operate on our mineral properties as permitted or being unable to enforce our rights with respect to our mineral properties. This could result in us not being compensated for our prior investment relating to the mineral property.

 

Rising metal prices encourage mining exploration, development, and construction activity, which in the past has increased demand for and cost of contract mining services and equipment.

 

Increases in metal prices tend to encourage increases in mining exploration, development, and construction activities. During past expansions, demand for and the cost of contract exploration, development and construction services and equipment have increased as well. Increased demand for and cost of services and equipment could cause project costs to increase materially, resulting in delays if services or equipment cannot be obtained in a timely manner due to inadequate availability, and increased potential for scheduling difficulties and cost increases due to the need to coordinate the availability of services or equipment, any of which could materially increase project exploration, development, or construction costs, result in project delays, or both. There can be no assurance that increased costs may not adversely affect our development of our mineral properties in the future.

 

We may experience difficulty attracting and retaining qualified management and technical personnel to meet our business objectives, and the failure to manage our business effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

 

We are dependent on the services of key executives including our President and Chief Executive Officer and other highly skilled and experienced executives and personnel focused on managing our interests and the advancement of the Donlin Gold project, in addition to the identification of new opportunities for growth and funding. Due to our relatively small size, the loss of these persons or our inability to attract and retain additional highly skilled employees required for the development of our activities may have a material adverse effect on our business or future operations.

 

We may be subject to legal proceedings.

 

Due to the nature of our business, we may be subject to a variety of regulatory investigations, claims, lawsuits, and other proceedings in the ordinary course of our business. The results of these legal proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty due to the uncertainty inherent in litigation, including the effects of discovery of new evidence or advancement of new legal theories, the difficulty of predicting decisions of judges and juries and the possibility that decisions may be reversed on appeal. There can be no assurances that these matters will not have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

 

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General Risk Factors

 

The Company is dependent upon information technology systems, which are subject to disruption, damage, failure, and risks associated with implementation and integration.

 

The Company’s information technology systems used in its operations are subject to disruption, damage, or failure from a variety of sources, including, without limitation, computer viruses, security breaches, cyberattacks, natural disasters and defects in design. Cybersecurity incidents are evolving and include, but are not limited to, malicious software, attempts to gain unauthorized access to data or machines and equipment, and other electronic security breaches that could lead to disruptions in systems, unauthorized release of confidential or otherwise protected information, the corruption of data or the disabling, misuse or malfunction of machines and equipment. Various measures have been implemented to manage the Company’s risks related to information technology systems and network disruptions. However, given the unpredictability of the timing, nature and scope of information or operational technology disruptions, the Company could potentially be subject to the compromising of confidential or otherwise protected information, destruction or corruption of data, security breaches, other manipulation or improper use of our systems and networks or financial losses from remedial actions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on cash flows, financial condition or results of operations.

 

The Company could also be adversely affected by system or network disruptions if new or upgraded information technology systems are defective, not installed properly or not properly integrated into operations. Various measures have been implemented to manage the risks related to the system implementation and modification, but system modification failures could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, and results of operations.

 

We believe we were a passive foreign investment company (PFIC) in 2021 which could have negative tax consequences for U.S. investors.

 

U.S. holders of our common shares should be aware that we believe that for U.S. federal income tax purposes we were classified as a PFIC for our fiscal year ended November 30, 2021, and that we may continue to be classified as a PFIC in future years. The determination of whether the Company is a PFIC is a factual determination dependent on a number of factors and cannot be made until the close of the applicable tax year. Accordingly, no assurances can be given regarding the Company’s PFIC status for the current year or any future year. If the Company is a PFIC at any time during a U.S. holder’s holding period, then certain potentially adverse tax consequences could apply to such U.S. holder’s acquisition, ownership, and disposition of common shares. For more information, please see the discussion in Item 5. Market for Registrants Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities Certain U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations for U.S. Holders” below.

 

Global climate change is an international concern and could impact our ability to conduct future operations.

 

Global climate change is an international issue and receives an enormous amount of publicity. We would expect that the imposition of international treaties or U.S. or Canadian federal, state, provincial, or local laws or regulations pertaining to mandatory reductions in energy consumption or emissions of greenhouse gasses could affect the feasibility of mining projects and increase operating costs.

 

The Donlin Gold project is not directly threatened by current predictions of sea level rise as it is located inland at elevations 150 meters to 640 meters above sea level. However, changes in sea levels could affect ocean and river transportation and shipping facilities, which would be used to transport supplies, equipment and personnel to the Donlin Gold project and products from the project to world markets. The Donlin Gold project proposes to deliver the vast majority of construction and operations equipment, supplies, consumables, and other required materials to the project site via the Kuskokwim River when it is ice-free. Historically, the Kuskokwim River has been ice-free from late April until mid-October and models based on historic weather and river flow records predict that there would be sufficient flow in the river to allow the transportation of the required materials to the project site annually. If climate changes alter the ice-free season or flow patterns of the Kuskokwim River, the current supply logistics plan for the project may need to be modified.

 

Climate changes also could affect the availability of water required to sustain operations at the Donlin Gold project. Also, management of water is an essential component of the project’s operating plans. Climate change could require modifications to the project’s water management plan, which may require additional capital investments or increase operating costs, if precipitation increases or decreases relative to historic records.

 

Extreme weather events (such as increased frequency or intensity of storms, increased snowpack, prolonged drought, and associated fire danger) have the potential to disrupt operations. Where appropriate the Donlin Gold project has developed contingency plans for managing extreme weather conditions; however, extended disruptions to supply lines due to extreme weather could result in interruption of activities at the project site, delay or increase the cost of construction of the project, or otherwise adversely affect our business.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Item 2.

Properties

 

Wood reviewed the geologic and resource models that supported the Donlin Gold project 2011 Mining Study, including comparing them to data from recent drilling programs, and determined that they continue to be adequate and suitable to be used for a Mineral Resource estimation. Using updated cost inputs from the first calendar quarter of 2020, a gold price of $1,500 per ounce, and the geologic and resource models utilized in support of the 2011 Mining Study, the contents within an updated optimized pit shell did not show a material change to the Mineral Resources stated in the 2011 Mining Study. Therefore, the Mineral Resources are considered current as of November 30, 2021, and are unchanged. They continue to have an effective date of July 11, 2011.

 

Similarly, using updated cost inputs, a gold price of $1,200 per ounce, and the geologic and resource models utilized in support of the 2011 Mining Study with appropriate modifying factors applied for Mineral Reserve estimation, the previous Mineral Reserve ultimate pit was contained within an updated optimized pit shell. Therefore, the Mineral Reserves remain current as of November 30, 2021, and are unchanged. Because the Mineral Reserves are supported by an updated economic analysis they have an effective date of April 27, 2021.

 

Outside of verifying the Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve estimates, the primary efforts in the 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report were financial and permitting updates. This includes updates to estimated capital costs, operating costs, reclamation and closure costs, royalties, taxes, and economic analysis, as well as current status of the permits.

 

Updated capital costs are based on first calendar quarter 2020 pricing (cost indices and current commodity pricing and equipment quotes) applied to the engineering designs and material take-offs from the 2011 Mining Study, except for minor changes made during permitting in the operations water treatment plant and the natural gas pipeline.

 

As a result of the content updates, the total initial capital cost estimate is $7,402 million, which is an increase of 10.8% or $723 million compared to the 2011 Mining Study total initial capital cost estimate. Likewise, the total sustaining capital estimate is $1,723 million, which is an increase of 14.6% or $219 million compared to the 2011 Mining Study total sustaining capital estimate.

 

The 2011 Mining Study operating costs were updated to first calendar quarter 2020 by updating key cost drivers like energy, labor, consumables, and freight. No material changes to project designs, schedules, or productivities were made; consequently, the manning schedules and consumables remain unchanged. The updated estimated LOM operating costs total $19,289 million, which is $5.90/t mined, $38.21/t processed, or $635/oz gold sold.

 

The economic evaluation of the Donlin Gold project in both the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report was updated using the following inputs:

 

 

A production plan based on the 2011 Mining Study of 53,500 t/d open pit gold mine with ore processing by means of flotation, pressure oxidation, and cyanidation. The pit designs and Mineral Reserves were based on the Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource estimates that were verified as remaining current. Annual LOM gold production averages 1.13 million ounces per year over a production life of 27 years, including 1.46 million ounces per year for the first five full years of production.

 

 

$1,500/oz gold price

 

 

Current land and royalty agreements

 

 

Initial and sustaining capital costs, and operating costs updated to first calendar quarter 2020

 

 

Tax payments in accordance with the TCJA enacted in December 2017 and effective January 1, 2018

 

 

$292 million LOM contributions for reclamation, closure, and financial assurance

 

 

Financing has been assumed on a 100%, all equity, stand-alone basis

 

 

Escalation/inflation has been excluded

 

 

No salvage is assumed at the end of operations

 

Based on the economic evaluation, the Donlin Gold project generates positive before and after-tax economic results. Total after-tax cash flow is $13,145 million, after-tax NPV at a 5% discount rate is $3,040 million, and the after-tax internal rate of return is 9.2%. After-tax payback is achieved 7.3 years following the start of production.

 

The following descriptions summarize selected information about the Company’s 50% interest in the Donlin Gold project located in Alaska, USA. Except for subsequent events or as otherwise noted, the disclosure in this Annual Report on Form 10-K of a scientific or technical nature for the Donlin Gold project is based on both the 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report, as of November 30, 2021. The S-K 1300 Report meets at least a pre-feasibility level. The 2021 Technical  Report and the S-K 1300 Report do not incorporate the latest Donlin Gold optimization work on the geologic modeling concepts or other optimization work since these assessments are still underway.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

The 2021 Technical Report was filed on EDGAR and SEDAR on August 31, 2021. The S-K 1300 Report is filed on EDGAR and SEDAR on January 26, 2022. The 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report was prepared by Wood and the following contributors, each of whom is an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101: Henry Kim, P.Geo., Senior Resource Geologist, Wood Canada Limited; Mike Woloschuk, P.Eng., VP Global Business Development & Consulting, Wood Group USA, Inc.; and Kirk Hanson, MBA, P.E., Technical Director, Open Pit Mining, Wood Group USA, Inc.

 

The 2021 Technical Report and S-K 1300 Report have been filed with securities regulatory authorities in each province of Canada and with the SEC. Portions of the following information are based on assumptions, qualifications and procedures that are not fully described herein. Reference should be made to the full text of both reports which are available for review on EDGAR at www.sec.gov and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

 

Kirk Hanson, MBA, P.E., an independent Qualified Person, has approved the mineral reserves and Henry Kim, P.Geo, an independent Qualified Person has approved the mineral resources included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K related to the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Donlin Gold Project, Alaska, USA

 

The Donlin Gold project is a development-stage gold project held by Donlin Gold LLC (“Donlin Gold”), a limited liability company that is owned 50% by the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, NOVAGOLD Resources Alaska Inc., and 50% by Barrick’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Barrick Gold U.S. Inc. The Company’s book value of its investment in the Donlin Gold project is $3,576,000 as of November 30, 2021.

 

The Company entered into the limited liability company agreement with Barrick (“LLC Agreement”) dated December 1, 2007, which provided for the creation of Donlin Gold, that is jointly owned by the Company and Barrick on a 50/50 basis. Pursuant to the LLC Agreement, the Company agreed to reimburse Barrick out of future mine production cash flow for a portion of Barrick’s prior expenditures on the Donlin Gold project. As of November 30, 2021, the promissory note, including accrued interest, amounted to approximately $115.7 million. Funding for the project is currently shared by both parties on a 50/50 basis.

 

Except for events subsequent to the reports, or as otherwise stated or implied, the scientific and technical information regarding the Donlin Gold project in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is based on both the 2021 Technical Report and the S-K 1300 Report.

 

Property Description and Location

 

donlingold.jpg
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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

donlin.jpg

 

The Donlin deposits are situated approximately 62°North latitude and 158°West longitude, which is 450 km west of Anchorage and 250 km northeast of Bethel up the Kuskokwim River. The closest village is the community of Crooked Creek, approximately 20 km to the south, on the Kuskokwim River.

 

The resource areas are within T. 23 N., R. 49. W., Seward Meridian, Kuskokwim and Mt. McKinley Recording Districts, Crooked Creek Mining District, Iditarod A-5 USGS 1:63,360 topography map. The mineralization is centered on approximately 540222.50 east and 6878534.36 north, using the NAD 83 datum.

 

The Donlin Gold property is located in the Kuskokwim region of southwestern Alaska on private, Alaska Native-owned mineral and surface land and Alaska state mining claims. The property is under lease (the Calista Lease) for subsurface rights and some surface rights from Calista and surface rights (the SUA) from TKC, two Alaska Native corporations. Calista is one of 13 regional Alaska Native corporations established as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) and under ANCSA has title to the subsurface estate and some surface rights in the region. TKC was formed in 1977 when the ANCSA village corporations of Lower Kalskag, Upper Kalskag, Aniak, Chuathbaluk, Napaimute, Crooked Creek, Red Devil, Georgetown, Sleetmute and Stony River, which are located along the middle region of the Kuskokwim River, merged. Under ANCSA, TKC has title to extensive surface estate in the region, including most of the project lands. The property hosts a gold deposit currently estimated at 33.8 million ounces of proven and probable mineral reserves averaging 2.09 grams per tonne. The Company believes that significant exploration potential remains in the Donlin Gold district, with prospects to increase mine life and/or justify future production expansions. See Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource Estimate, below.

 

Other lands required for offsite infrastructure, such as the Jungjuk port site, the road from the port site to the mine site, and natural gas pipeline are categorized as Native, State of Alaska conveyed, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Rights-of-way are required from other Alaska Native corporations, the State of Alaska and BLM for the road and pipeline alignments that cross Native corporation, state, and federal lands.

 

Permits

 

Donlin Gold obtained the necessary permits and certifications that allowed for the exploration, associated at least pre-feasibility study level test work, environmental monitoring, and Environmental Impact Study (EIS) baseline data collection efforts. The current status of these permits is in line with the termination of the baseline data collection effort, temporary closure of the camp in May 2015, and the seasonal reopening of the site for the geological drill program from July to November 2017, the geotechnical drill program in 2019 for the issuance of the Dam Safety Certifications, and the latest geological drill programs in 2020, 2021, and proposed in 2022. The active permits include Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) temporary use of water; ADNR Application for Permit to Mine in Alaska (approval for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 drill programs), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering (individual 404 and nationwide 26 permits); Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) authorizations (septic system, multisector stormwater general permit – sector G, owners requested limit [air]); and Federal Aviation Administration approval (Landing Area). Other permits were either put on hold, closed, or allowed to expire.

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

On August 7, 2012, we announced that Donlin Gold commenced permitting of the project by submitting a draft Plan of Operations and Section 404 Clean Water Act (CWA) draft permit application to federal and state regulators. The Section 404 permit application initiated the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which involves preparation of an EIS. The Corps selected AECOM, formerly URS, an independent contractor, to prepare the EIS. The Notice of Intent for the EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2012, and the NEPA public scoping process was completed on March 29, 2013. During the remainder of 2013 and through 2014 and 2015, Donlin Gold worked to address the remaining data needs for the draft EIS. Donlin Gold also continued to provide application materials and maintained ongoing dialogue with the key permitting agencies. The Corps addressed the cooperating agency comments on the preliminary draft and filed the Notice of Availability for public release of the draft EIS in the Federal Register in November 2015. After the filing of the draft EIS, the Corps issued a schedule for public meetings on the Donlin Gold draft EIS in the Y-K region and Anchorage, Alaska. The Corps conducted, and at the end of May 2016 completed, a six-month public comment period for the draft EIS, including 17 public comment meetings in communities across the Y-K region and in Anchorage. The Corps received comments from federal and state agencies, local and tribal governments, Alaska Native organizations, businesses, special interest groups/NGOs, and individuals.

 

On April 27, 2018, the Notice of Availability of the Donlin Gold final EIS was published in the Federal Register. On August 13, 2018, the Corps and the BLM issued a joint Federal Record of Decision (ROD) for the Donlin Gold project. Along with the ROD, the Corps issued a combined permit under CWA Section 404 and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Additionally, the BLM issued the Offer to Lease for the right-of-way for those portions of the natural gas pipeline that would cross federal lands. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration previously issued a special permit for the natural gas pipeline on June 5, 2018.

 

Several major State of Alaska permits were also issued and advanced during 2018 through 2021. After a public notice and comment period, ADEC issued a Certificate of Reasonable Assurance under CWA Section 401 on August 10, 2018, indicating that the CWA 404 permit complies with the State’s water quality standards. The Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) water discharge permit was issued by ADEC on May 24, 2018 and became effective on July 1, 2018. The State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) issued Title 16 Fish Habitat permits for the mine area and transportation corridor on August 30, 2018. In December 2021 ADEC approved a third extension of the date by which construction of the Donlin Gold project as authorized by the Prevention of Significant Deterioration air quality permit must begin until June 30, 2023. The final approvals of the Donlin Gold Reclamation Plan and the Waste Management Permit were issued on January 18, 2019. ADNR issued the easement, land leases, land use permits, and material site authorizations for the proposed transportation facilities, and easement for the fiber optic cable on State lands on January 2, 2020. On November 1, 2021, ADFG issued two Special Area Permits required for pipeline facilities located within the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge (“Refuge”). One permit authorizes the compressor station and the other permit authorizes the section of the pipeline right-of-way (“ROW”) in the Refuge.

 

On November 30, 2020, ADNR issued a public notice for comment on Donlin Gold’s 12 water rights applications for the mine site and transportation corridor, which closed on December 15, 2020. Water rights are for local surface water sources and groundwater to be used for process water, dust control, fire protection, and potable water. In March 2021, the ADNR held a second two-week public notice period, which closed on March 26, 2021. All the final Water Rights were issued on June 29, 2021 by ADNR’s Division of Mining Land and Water. In July, they were administratively appealed to the ADNR Commissioner by Earthjustice, Orutsararmuit Native Council (ONC), and five villages. We expect a decision on the appeal by the Commissioner in 2022.

 

The Alaska Dam Safety certifications require additional fieldwork and more detailed engineering which commenced in 2019 and require a multi-year commitment. The fieldwork was temporarily paused to concentrate on the 2020 and 2021 geological drill programs.

 

On February 7, 2019, Earthjustice requested, and ADEC subsequently granted a request for informal review of the Waste Management Permit issuance. ADEC completed this review and affirmed its decision to issue this permit on July 25, 2019. There were no further appeals of the Waste Management Permit. On February 7, 2019, Earthjustice also appealed the Reclamation Plan approval. On December 31, 2019, ADNR after careful review, denied the appeal and affirmed the decision to approve the Reclamation Plan.

 

On January 28, 2019, ADNR’s State Pipeline Coordinator Services (SPCS) issued a preliminary decision to grant the State Right-of-Way (“ROW”) agreement and lease authorization for the natural gas pipeline. The public comment period began on January 28, 2019 and ended on March 22, 2019. The final offer to lease was issued on January 17, 2020 and was accepted by Donlin Gold in February 2020. On February 6, 2020, Cook Inletkeeper, on behalf of the Susitna River Coalition and three Native village organizations requested that the ADNR Commissioner reconsider issuance of the ROW. The ADNR Commissioner denied the request for reconsideration on February 18, 2020. After Earthjustice filed a court appeal of the lease issuance and reconsideration denial, ADNR changed its position and accepted the reconsideration request on April 30, 2020, specifically to address cumulative effects. On September 10, 2020, ADNR issued a revised Consideration of Comments document, which specifically addresses the potential cumulative effects of the pipeline. The comment period on the revised document ended on November 9, 2020. On July 19, 2021, the ADNR Commissioner completed the reconsideration and upheld the ROW agreement and lease authorization. On August 9, 2021, two parties requested that the Commissioner conduct a further reconsideration. The first party was Earthjustice representing ONC, Cook Inletkeeper, and three villages. The second party was an individual who operates an outdoor guiding business around the pipeline route. The Commissioner rejected both further reconsideration requests on August 19, 2021. On September 20, 2021, Earthjustice, representing ONC, Cook Inletkeeper, and three villages, filed an appeal of the State ROW in Alaska Superior Court. An appeal was also filed by the second party on September 20, 2021. The two appeals have been consolidated into a single case that is pending before the Alaska Superior Court based in Anchorage, Alaska. ADNR is currently finalizing the Administrative Record for the ROW issuance for submittal to the Court after which the Court will establish a briefing schedule. We expect a decision on the appeal in the second half of 2022 or the first half of 2023.

 

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In 2018, Earthjustice, on behalf of ONC, Akiak Native Community IRA Council, Organized Village of Kwethluk, Native Village of Kwigillingok, Chuloonawick Tribal Council, and Yukon-Kuskokwim River Alliance, requested an informal review of the State of Alaska’s 401 certification. The request was granted and on April 4, 2019, ADEC completed the informal review and reissued the certification. On April 24, 2019, Earthjustice requested that ADEC vacate the reissued certification and conduct a second informal review of it. On May 8, 2019, ADEC denied the request to vacate the certification but granted the second informal review request. On May 7, 2020, ADEC sent a letter to Earthjustice indicating it had completed the second informal review and left the certification in place. On June 3, 2020, Earthjustice joined by ONC, Chevak, Kasigluk, Eek, Kwinhagak, Marshall, Nightmute, Tununak, Kwethluk, Kotlik, SalmonState, and the Alaska Community Action on Toxics filed a formal appeal with the ADEC Commissioner. The appeal process consists of an Administrative Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) appointed by the ADEC Commissioner. The ALJ was subsequently appointed. On July 31, 2020, based on the recommendations of the ALJ, the ADEC Commissioner determined that only ONC could join with Earthjustice in the appeal because the other parties had not participated in earlier stages of public comment and the informal reviews The appeal focused on three narrow issues related to compliance with the State’s water quality standards near the mine site. On April 12, 2021, the Administrative Law Judge issued his opinion for the Commissioner’s consideration recommending the 401 Certification be vacated. The Commissioner issued his decision to uphold the 401 Certification on May 27, 2021. The decision was appealed on June 28, 2021 in Alaska’s Superior Court by Earthjustice, on behalf of ONC. On December 29, 2021, the Court issued an order remanding the 401 Certification to ADEC for consideration of additional technical information provided by Donlin Gold and dismissing the appeal in Alaska Superior Court without prejudice. The existing 401 Certification remains in effect during the remand period. Based on the remand schedule established by the Court order, ADEC’s decision is expected in the second quarter of 2022.

 

Thirteen of the 56 village councils in the Calista Region (Native Village of Kasigluk, ONC, Native Village of Eek, Tuluksak Native Community, Tununak Council, Native Village of Nunapitchuk, Chuloonawick Tribal Council, Native Village of Kwigillingok, Native Village of Kongiganak, Chefornak Traditional Council, Chevak Native Village, Native Village of Napakiak and Quinhagak) have adopted resolutions opposing development of the Donlin Gold project.

 

Mineral Tenure

 

The 2011 Restated Exploration and Lode Mining Lease (“Calista Lease”) between Calista and Donlin Gold, includes subsurface (mineral) rights leased from Calista. Calista also owns the corresponding surface estate on a portion of these lands, the rights to which are also included in the Calista Lease. The Calista Lease provides Donlin Gold with rights to approximately 19,988 hectares of Calista-owned land. The Calista Lease was restated on February 11, 2011, to reflect all assignments and amendments made between its original execution on May 1, 1995 and February 11, 2011. The Calista Lease was amended once again effective June 6, 2014 (the “2014 Amendment”). The 2014 Amendment did not affect the lands subject to the Calista Lease as restated on February 11, 2011.

 

On June 9, 2014, the Company announced that Donlin Gold and TKC reached an updated long-term Surface Use Agreement (SUA) for the Donlin Gold project. The SUA with TKC grants non-exclusive surface use rights to Donlin Gold for mining activities. TKC owns and contributed to the SUA the corresponding surface estate over most of Calista’s subsurface estate included in the Calista Lease as well as some additional surface estate. The SUA with TKC provides Donlin Gold with rights to approximately 16,923 hectares of TKC-owned land.

 

Lyman Resources in Alaska, Inc. (Lyman Resources) has an existing placer mining lease covering approximately four-square miles (partially covering six sections) within the Calista Lease area. The Lyman family also has title to approximately 14 acres of surface estate within the Snow Gulch area. The Calista Lease grants priority to extraction of the lode mineralization in the event of a conflict of use between lode and placer mining operations, provided that a two-year notice period is provided to Lyman Resources. Lyman Resources, the Lyman family, and Donlin Gold executed a Surface Lease and Assignment of Mining Lease effective May 9, 2012, leasing the Lyman surface estate and assigning the Lyman placer lease within the Calista Lease area to Donlin for Project mining use (the “Lyman Lease”).

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

In addition to the leased land, Donlin Gold holds 493 State of Alaska mining claims comprising approximately 29,008 hectares in the Kuskokwim and Mt. McKinley Recording Districts. The mining claims abut and largely surround northern and western boundaries of the lands subject to the Calista Lease and TKC SUA. The mining claims are located on lands that are owned by the State of Alaska (409) and on State-selected lands from the BLM (84). All claims are approximately either 16.2 hectares or 64.8 hectares in size.

 

The terms for the Calista Lease and TKC SUA include various royalty and other payment provisions and considerations such as shareholder employment and contracting opportunities. The Lyman Lease provides for rent and certain other payments.

 

Royalty Terms of the Calista Lease include:

 

 

Annual advance minimum royalty (variable) to 2030;

 

All advance minimum payments are recoverable as a credit against the net smelter return royalty and net proceeds payment;

 

Net smelter return of 1.5% for the earlier of the first five years following commencement of commercial production or until initial capital payback;

 

Conversion to 4.5% net smelter return after the earlier of five years or initial capital payback; and

 

Net proceeds royalty of 8% of the net proceeds realized by Donlin Gold LLC commencing with the first quarter in which net proceeds are first realized.

 

Payment Terms of the TKC SUA include:

 

 

Annual advance minimum payment (variable per milestones);

 

All advance minimum payments are recoverable as a credit against the milled tonnage fee and net proceeds payment;

 

Milled tonnage fee of $0.40 per tonne processed for the first 10 years of production;

 

Conversion of the milled tonnage fee to $0.50 per tonne processed for all production after 10 years;

 

Net proceeds payment of 3% of the net proceeds realized by Donlin Gold LLC commencing with the first quarter in which net proceeds are first realized.

 

The term of the Calista Lease is to April 30, 2031 and extends automatically year to year thereafter, so long as either mining or processing operations are carried out on or with respect to the property in good faith on a continuous basis in such year, or Donlin Gold pays to Calista an advanced minimum royalty of US$3,000,000 (subject to adjustment for increases in the Consumer Price Index) for such year. The TKC SUA remains in effect through April 30, 2031 and on a year-to-year basis thereafter, so long as the Calista Mining Lease remains in effect. The Lyman Lease has an initial term of 20 years, but shall be extended while Donlin Gold conducts operations on the property.

 

Additional estimated costs associated with various landowner and lease agreements, not already covered in initial capital or G&A operating costs, average approximate $8.6 million per year during the six pre-production years and $2.5 million per year during the 27 operating years.  Annual rent, labor expenditures and filings are required to maintain Alaska State mining claims on State land.  Mining license tax payments may also apply.

 

Accessibility and Climate

 

The Kuskokwim River is a regional transportation route and is serviced by commercial barge lines. A 25-kilometer winter road, designated as an Alaska State Highway route and transportation corridor, accesses the property from the barge landing at the village of Crooked Creek. The Donlin Gold project currently has an all-season, soft-sided camp. An adjacent 1,500-meter airstrip is capable of handling aircraft as large as L-100 Hercules (approximate cargo capacity of 19,050 kilograms), allowing efficient shipment of personnel, some heavy equipment, and supplies. The Donlin Gold project can be reached directly by charter air facilities out of Anchorage and Aniak, 80 kilometers to the west.

 

The project area is one of low topographic relief on the western flank of the Kuskokwim Mountains. Elevations range from 150 meters to 640 meters. Ridges are well rounded and easily accessible by all-terrain vehicle. Hillsides are forested with black spruce, tamarack, alder, birch and larch. Soft muskeg and discontinuous permafrost are common in poorly drained areas at lower elevations. The area has a relatively dry interior continental climate with typically less than 500 millimeters total annual precipitation. Summer temperatures are relatively warm and may exceed 30°C. Minimum temperatures may fall to well below -42°C during the cold winter months.

 

Exploration History

 

Approximately 1,678 exploration and development drill holes totaling 367,886 meters, were completed from 1988 through 2007 in at least six separately managed campaigns. Another 108 core holes totaling 33,425 meters were added in 2008 to explore near-pit expansions and satellite deposits, and for facility-related condemnation and geotechnical studies. In 2010, 6 core holes totaling 2,090 meters were drilled for additional pit slope geotechnical drilling. In 2017, 16 core holes totaling 7,040 meters were drilled; in 2020, 85 core holes totaling 23,361 meters were drilled; and in 2021, 79 core holes totaling 24,264 meters were drilled.

 

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Approximately 1,396 holes, totaling 339,733 meters, supported the resource model used in the 2011 Mining Study. The remaining holes were either drilled after the completion of the 2011 Mining Study (2017, 2020 and 2021 drill programs) or were utilized for other purposes, such as district exploration, carbonate resource, facilities condemnation, hydrology, geotechnical, and infrastructure engineering.

 

Year

Company

Work Performed

Results

1909 to 1956

Various prospectors and placer miners

Gold discovered in 1909. Placer mining by hand, underground, and hydraulic methods.

Total placer gold production of approximately 30,000 ounces.

1970s to 2015

Robert Lyman and heirs

Resumed sluice mining in Donlin Gold area and placer mined Snow Gulch.

First year of mining Snow Gulch produced best results, with 800 ounces of gold recovered. Donlin Gold has obtained an agreement with the Lyman family to consolidate the land package around the proposed mine.

1974, 1975

Resource Associates of Alaska (RAA)

Regional mineral potential evaluation for Calista. Soil grid and three bulldozer trenches dug in Snow Gulch area.

Soil, rock, and vein samples have anomalous gold values. Trench rock sample results range from 2 to 20 grams per tonne gold.

1984 to 1987

Calista Corporation

Minor work. Geologists from various mining companies, including Cominco and Kennecott, visit the property.

 

1986

Lyman Resources

Auger drilling for placer evaluation finds abundant gray, sulfide rich clay near Quartz Gulch.

Assays of cuttings average over 7 grams per tonne gold. Initial discovery of Far Side (“Carolyn”) prospect.

1987

Calista Corporation

Rock sampling of ridge tops and auger drill sampling of Far Side prospect.

Anomalous gold values from auger holes: best result = 9.7 grams per tonne gold.

1988 to 1989

Western Gold Exploration and Mining Co.

Airborne geophysics, geological mapping, and soil sampling over most of the project area. Total of 13,525 meters of D9 Cat trenching at all prospects. Over 15,000 soil, rock chip, and auger samples collected. Drilling included 3,106 feet of AX core drilling, 404 meters in 239 auger holes, and 10,423 meters of RC drilling (125 holes). First metallurgical tests and petrographic work.

Initial work identified eight prospects with encouraging geology (Snow, Dome, Quartz, Carolyn, Queen, Upper Lewis, Lower Lewis, and Rochelieu). Drilling at most of these prospects led to identification of the Lewis areas as having the best bulk-mineable potential. Mineral resource estimate completed.

1993

Teck Exploration Ltd.

D-9 Cat trenching (1,400 meters) and two 500-meter soil lines in Lewis area. Petrographic, fluid inclusion, and metallurgical work.

Identified new mineralized areas, updated Mineral resource estimate.

1995 to 2000

Placer Dome

87,383 meters of core, 11,909 meters of RC drilling and 8,493 meters of trenching. Environmental monitoring and assessment.

Drilled the American Creek magnetic anomaly (ACMA), discovered the ACMA deposit. Numerous mineral resource estimation iterations.

2001 to 2002

NOVAGOLD

46,495 meters of core, 38,022 meters of RC drilling, 89.5 meters of geotechnical drilling, and 268 meters of water monitoring holes.

Filed a preliminary assessment report on the project. Updated resource estimate.

2003 to 2005

Donlin Gold Joint Venture

25,448 meters of core and 5,979 meters of RC drilling. Calcium carbonate exploration drilling; IP lines for facility condemnation studies.

Infill drilled throughout the resource area. Discovered a calcium carbonate resource. Poor quality IP data.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Year

Company

Work Performed

Results

2006

Donlin Gold Joint Venture

92,804 meters of core drilling to support mineral resource classification conversion, slope stability, metallurgy, waste rock, carbonate exploration, facilities and port road studies.

Geological model and mineral resource update.

2007

Donlin Gold Joint Venture

Core drilling totaled 75,257 meters and included resource delineation, geotechnical and engineering, and carbonate exploration. 13 RC holes for monitor wells and pit pump tests totaled 1,043 meters.

Improved pit slope parameters, positive hydrogeological results. Carbonate exploration was negative. Updated mineral resource estimate. Completed feasibility study with positive results.

2008

Donlin Gold LLC

108 core holes totaling 33,425 meters for exploration and facility related geotechnical and condemnation studies. Updated resource models. Metallurgical test work: flotation variability and CN leach. 54 test pits and 37 auger holes were also completed for overburden characterization.

Resource expansion indicated for East ACMA. CN leach resource potential indicated for the main resource area, Snow, and Dome prospects. Facility sites successfully condemned. Updated resource estimates utilizing applicable data through 2007.

2009

Donlin Gold LLC

19 geotechnical core holes totaling 950 meters in facility sites and to address hydrology.

 

2010

Donlin Gold LLC

Six geotechnical core holes totaling 2,090 meters to evaluate slope stability of expanded pit. Also drilled 90 auger holes totaling 585 meters and dug 59 test pits to further evaluate overburden conditions and gravel supplies within tailings storage facility (TSF) area.

Pit slope stability of new pit design remained acceptable. Construction suitability of surficial materials in TSF is evaluated.

2017

Donlin Gold LLC

16 core holes totaling 7,040 meters to test targeted mineralized zones, collect structural data related to mineralization, and collect geotechnical data.

Results not included in resource model used in the 2011 Mining Study

2019

Donlin Gold LLC

30 geotechnical core holes totaling 1,060 meters were drilled as part of a site investigation program in support of detailed dam design.

Results not included in resource model used in the 2011 Mining Study

2020

Donlin Gold LLC

85 core holes totaling 23,361 meters in both the ACMA and Lewis deposits to validate recent geologic modeling concepts and test for extensions of high-grade zones.

Results not included in resource model used in the 2011 Mining Study

2021

Donlin Gold LLC

79 core holes totaling 24,264 meters in both the ACMA and Lewis deposits to validate recent geologic modeling concepts and test for extensions of high-grade zones.

Results still pending and not included in resource model used in the 2011 Mining Study

 

Geology

 

Regional Geology

 

The Kuskokwim region of southwestern Alaska is predominately underlain by rocks of the Upper Cretaceous Kuskokwim Group that filled a subsided northeast-trending strike-slip basin between a series of amalgamated terranes. Intermediate composition volcano-plutonic complexes intrude and overlie Kuskokwim Group rocks throughout the region.

 

Local Geology

 

The Donlin Gold deposits lie between two regional, northeast-trending, right lateral fault systems: the Denali-Farewell fault system to the south and the Iditarod-Nixon Fork fault system to the north. Undivided Kuskokwim Group sedimentary rocks and granite porphyry complexes are the main rock units.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Property Geology

 

Greywacke is dominant in the northern part of the area (“northern resource area” comprising Lewis, Queen, Rochelieu, and Akivik), while shale-rich units are common in the southern part of the area (“southern resource area” comprising South Lewis and ACMA).

 

Gold deposits are associated with an extensive Late Cretaceous–Early Tertiary gold–arsenic–antimony–mercury hydrothermal system. Gold-bearing zones exhibit strong structural and host rock control along north–northeast-trending fracture zones and are best developed where those zones intersect relatively competent host rocks. Mineralized material is most abundant in intrusive dikes and sills, but sedimentary rocks are also mineralized within strong fracture zones.

 

Geotechnical and Hydrology

 

A number of geotechnical and hydrological studies have been completed in support of at least pre-feasibility and environmental reports for Donlin Gold.

 

Rowland Engineering Consultants performed the geotechnical assessments for the engineering to support design of the port site, airstrip, plant site and interconnecting roads. BGC, Inc (BGC). performed geotechnical analyses for the design of the pit, waste rock facility (WRF), and tailings storage facility (TSF).

 

The site-wide hydrological and hydrologic models developed by BGC, are based on extensive drill data and climatic information for the area. BGC, CEMI, Hatch Ltd., and SRK, Inc. provided hydrologic studies, design criteria and associated test work for the water treatment plant requirements during construction, operations, and closure. Lorax Environmental performed water quality modeling for the post closure pit lake.

 

Exploration Potential

 

The mineral resource defined in the S-K 1300 Report is confined to a portion of the property. We believe there is considerable potential to increase the mineral resources at the Donlin Gold project. Numerous other targets have been identified along the 8-kilometer mineralized gold trend and are defined by surface sampling and various historical drill holes containing significant gold values.

 

Exploration potential in the vicinity of the open pit design in the S-K 1300 Report includes extensions along strike to the East ACMA, Lewis, and Crooked Creek areas. Mineralization remains open at depth under the current pit limits. Mineralization also remains open to the north of the planned pit and has been tested by shallow trenching and soil sampling, with limited drilling undertaken to date.

 

Exploration potential at the Donlin Gold project also exists outside the areas that have been the subject of the mine design in the S-K 1300 Report. Gold mineralization is associated with an overall north–northeasterly-trending high level dike/sill complex that has been outlined in the regional aero-magnetics as a magnetic low. The zone, approximately 8 kilometers long, and 4 kilometers wide, consists of a northern, dike-dominated area, and a southern, more sill-dominated area.

 

Mineralization

 

Southeast-dipping north-northeast-oriented fracture zones are the primary control on gold-bearing vein distribution within the north-northeast mineralized corridors. Composite vein zones or mineralized corridors range up to 30 meters in width and extend for hundreds of meters along strike. Intrusive rocks and to a lesser extent competent massive greywacke are the most favored host rocks, and act as a secondary control on the mineralization. Gold distribution in the deposit closely mimics the intrusive rocks, which contain about 74% of the mineral resource identified in the S-K 1300 Report. Structural zones in competent sedimentary units account for the remaining 26%.

 

Gold-bearing sulfides occur in both veins and disseminated zones in mafic igneous bodies, rhyodacite dikes and sills, and sedimentary rocks. Quartz-carbonate-sulfide (pyrite, stibnite, and arsenopyrite) veins are the primary mineralized features, but gold also occurs in thin, discontinuous sulfide fracture fillings.

 

Minor Elements and Deleterious Materials

 

The most abundant minor elements associated with gold-bearing material are iron, arsenic, antimony, and sulfur. They are contained primarily in the mineral suite associated with hydrothermal deposition of gold, including pyrite, arsenopyrite, realgar, native arsenic, and stibnite. Minor hydrothermal pyrrhotite, marcasite and syngenetic or sedimentary pyrite, also account for some of the iron and sulfur.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Three elements that have processing significance are mercury, chlorine, and fluorine. Graphitic carbon and carbonate minerals also would negatively affect the metallurgical process.

 

Metallurgy

 

Sufficient metallurgical test work was completed under the direction of Barrick personnel to support the S-K 1300 Report. Gold is mainly carried by arsenopyrite. Variation is observed in processing behavior between intrusive rocks and sedimentary rocks, but less so between the geographical sources.

 

Process testing generated development of the following conceptual flowsheet:

 

 

conventional crushing and grinding;

 

 

concentration by flotation;

 

 

pressure oxidation of the concentrate in an autoclave;

 

 

carbon-in-leach (“CIL”) cyanidation of the oxidized concentrate;

 

 

carbon strip and regeneration circuits;

 

 

gold electrowinning; and

 

 

refining and production of doré bars.

 

This processing concept incorporates proven commercial unit operations.

 

Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource Estimates

 

The mineral reserves for the Donlin Gold project were classified using criteria appropriate under the mining disclosure definitions and standards of NI 43-101 and S-K 1300 with an effective date of April 27, 2021 and are current as of November 30, 2021. The mineral reserves are summarized in the table below.

 

Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve Estimate, Effective Date April 27, 2021 and current as of November 30, 2021, based on $1,200 per ounce gold price

 

                   

Contained Gold

(thousands of ounces)

 

Reserve Category

 

Tonnes

(thousands)

   

Gold Grade

(grams/tonne)

      100%    

Attributable to

NOVAGOLD

50%

 

Proven

    7,683       2.32       573       287  

Probable

    497,128       2.08       33,276       16,638  

Proven and probable

    504,811       2.09       33,849       16,925  

 

Notes:

 

 

(1)

Mineral reserves are reported within the pre-feasibility pit designs, and supported by a mine schedule, featuring variable throughput rates, stockpiling and cut-off optimization. The point of reference for Mineral Reserves estimates is where the reserves are delivered to the mill. The pit designs are contained within an optimized pit shell based on the following economic and technical parameters: Metal price for gold of $1,200 per ounce; reference mining cost of $2.16 per tonne incremented $0.0033 per tonne per meter with depth from the 220 meter elevation (equates to an average mining cost of $2.64 per tonne), fixed processing cost of $13.78/t processed; sustaining capital of $1.54/t processed; general and administrative cost of $3.66/t processed; stockpile rehandle costs of $0.24/t processed assuming that 45% of mill feed is rehandled; variable metallurgical recoveries by rock type, ranging from 86.7% in shale to 94.2% in intrusive rocks in the Akivik domain; refining and freight charges of $1.21/oz Au; royalty considerations of 4.5% NSR and $0.50/t processed; and variable pit slope angles, ranging from 23° to 43°. See “Section 12: Mineral Reserve Estimates” of the S-K 1300 Report.

 

 

(2)

Mineral reserves are reported using an optimized block value (BV) based on the following equation: BV = Gold grade * Recovery – royalties & refining costs – process operating costs – G&A cost reported in $ per tonne. Assuming an average gold recovery of 89.5% the marginal gold cut-off grade would be approximately 0.57 grams per tonne, or the gold grade that would equate to a $0.001 BV cut-off at these same values.

 

 

(3)

The life of mine strip ratio is 5.48:1. The assumed life-of-mine throughput rate is 53,500 tonnes per day.

 

 

(4)

Rounding may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.

 

 

(5)

Mineral reserves are reported on a 100% ownership basis and a 50% ownership basis. The 50% basis is attributable to NOVAGOLD through their 50% ownership interest in the joint venture that owns the mineral rights and manages 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 $1,200 per ounce. Mineral resources are based on a Whittle™ pit optimized for all measured, indicated, and inferred blocks assuming a gold selling price of $1,200 per ounce and are inclusive of reserves.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Mineral resources were classified using criteria appropriate under the mining disclosure standards of S-K 1300 by application of the NSR-based cut-off that incorporated mining and recovery parameters, and constraint of the mineral resources to a pit shell based on commodity prices. The mineral resources (exclusive of mineral reserves) are summarized in the table below.

 

Mineral Resources Estimate (exclusive of reserves), Effective Date July 11, 2011 and current as of November 30, 2021, based on $1,200 per ounce gold price  

 

                   

Contained Gold

(thousands of ounces)

 

Resource Category

 

Tonnes

(thousands)

   

Gold Grade

(grams/tonne)

      100%    

Attributable to

NOVAGOLD

50%

 

Measured

    869       2.23       62       31  

Indicated

    69,402       2.44       5,435       2,718  

Measured and indicated

    70,271       2.43       5,497       2,749  

Inferred

    92,216       2.02       5,993       2,997  

 

Notes:

 

 

(1)

Mineral resources are reported exclusive of mineral reserves. Mineral resources are reported on a 100% ownership basis and a 50% ownership basis. The 50% basis is attributable to NOVAGOLD through their 50% ownership interest in the joint venture that owns the mineral rights and manages the Donlin Gold project property.

 

 

(2)

Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

 

 

(3)

The cut-off date for the sample database used in the resource estimate is November 1, 2009. However, more recent drilling data was used to validate the resource model as remaining current.

 

 

(4)

Mineral resources are reported in-place (point of reference) and contained within a conceptual measured, indicated and inferred optimized pit shell using the following assumptions: gold price of $1,200 per ounce; variable process cost based on 2.1874 * (sulfur grade) + 10.65; administration cost of $2.29 per tonne; refining, freight & marketing (selling costs) of $1.85 per ounce recovered; stockpile re-handle costs of $0.20 per tonne processed assuming that 45% of mill feed is re-handled; variable royalty rate, based on royalty of 4.5% * (Gold price – selling cost), and a variable metallurgical recovery depending on the host rock type ranging from 86 to 94%. Assuming an average recovery of 89.5% and average S% grade of 1.07, the marginal gold cut-off grade is 0.47 g/t. These technical and economic parameters are those that were used in the 2011 Mining Study to establish reasonable prospects of eventual economic extraction. Based on the QP’s review of the estimate, there would be no material change to the Mineral Resources if a gold price of $1,500/oz was used and other economic parameters were updated to the 2020 parameters used in the Mineral Reserve estimate. Therefore the 2011 Mineral Resource statement is considered current and is presented unchanged. See “Section 11: Mineral Resource Estimates” of the S-K 1300 Report.

 

 

(5)

Rounding may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.

 

 

(6)

Tonnage and grade measurements are in metric units. Contained gold ounces are reported as troy ounces.

 

Mineral Resources Estimate (inclusive of reserves)

 

                   

Contained Gold

(thousands of ounces)

 

Resource Category

 

Tonnes

(thousands)

   

Gold Grade

(grams/tonne)

      100 %  

Attributable to NOVAGOLD 50%

 

Measured

    7,731       2.52       626       313  

Indicated

    533,607       2.24       38,380       19,190  

Measured and indicated

    541,337       2.24       39,007       19,503  

Inferred

    92,216       2.02       5,993       2,996  

 

 

(1)

Mineral resources are reported inclusive of mineral reserves. Mineral resources are reported on a 100% ownership basis and a 50% ownership basis. The 50% basis is attributable to NOVAGOLD through their 50% ownership interest in the joint venture that owns the mineral rights and manages the Donlin Gold project property.

 

 

(2)

Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

 

 

(3)

The cut-off date for the sample database used in the resource estimate is November 1, 2009. However, more recent drilling data was used to validate the resource model as remaining current.

 

36

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

 

(4)

Mineral resources are reported in-place (point of reference) and contained within a conceptual measured, indicated and inferred optimized pit shell using the following assumptions: gold price of $1,200 per ounce; variable process cost based on 2.1874 * (sulfur grade) + 10.65; administration cost of $2.29 per tonne; refining, freight & marketing (selling costs) of $1.85 per ounce recovered; stockpile re-handle costs of $0.20 per tonne processed assuming that 45% of mill feed is re-handled; variable royalty rate, based on royalty of 4.5% * (Gold price – selling cost), and a variable metallurgical recovery depending on the host rock type ranging from 86 to 94%. Assuming an average recovery of 89.5% and average S% grade of 1.07, the marginal gold cut-off grade is 0.47 g/t. These technical and economic parameters are those that were used in the 2011 Mining Study to establish reasonable prospects of eventual economic extraction. Based on the QP’s review of the estimate, there would be no material change to the Mineral Resources if a gold price of $1,500/oz was used and other economic parameters were updated to the 2020 parameters used in the Mineral Reserve estimate. Therefore the 2011 Mineral Resource statement is considered current and is presented unchanged.

 

 

(5)

Rounding may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.

 

 

(6)

Tonnage and grade measurements are in metric units. Contained gold ounces are reported as troy ounces.

 

 

(7)

Due to modifying factors applied to the Mineral Resource model to estimate Mineral Reserves, notably planned dilution and loss, the sum of Mineral Reserves and Mineral Resources excluding Mineral Reserves reported above will not equal Mineral Resources inclusive of Mineral Reserves in this table. Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves include planned dilution of 33,745 kt grading 0.31 g/t Au and planned loss of 6,016 kt grading 1.33 g/t Au.

 

Financial model parameters

 

The estimated mine life is 27 years based on a nominal processing rate of 53,500 tonnes per day. Annual gold production over the projected mine life averages 1.13 million ounces per year, including 1.46 million ounces per year for the first five full years of production. The total initial capital cost estimate is approximately $7.4 billion. The project’s estimated after-tax net present value at a 5% discount rate (“NPV 5%”) is $3.0 billion using the base case gold price of $1,500 per ounce. The internal rate of return (IRR) at the same gold price is 9.2%.

 

Base Case Project Sensitivity to Gold Price

 

Gold price
($ per ounce)

   

After-tax

cash flow
($ million)

   

After-tax NPV 5%
($ million)

   

After-tax IRR
(%)

   

Payback

(years)

 
1,200       6,556       202       5.3       10.3  
1,300       8,773       1,161       6.8       9.2  
1,400       10,974       2,109       8.1       8.1  
1,500       13,145       3,040       9.2       7.3  
1,600       15,308       3,967       10.4       6.7  
1,700       17,455       4,887       11.4       6.2  
1,800       19,125       5,696       12.4       5.9  

 

Summary of Key Evaluation Metrics (Base Case at $1,500 per ounce gold)

 

Total tonnes mined (million)

    3,270  

Ore tonnes treated (million)

    505  

Strip ratio (waste tonnes per ore tonne)

    5.5 to 1  

Gold ounces recovered (million)

    30.4  

Gold recovery (%)

    89.8 %

 

   

$ million

 

Net revenue

    45,519  

Total operating costs

    (19,289 )

Operating cash flow before tax

    26,230  

Income and mining taxes

    (3,668 )

Operating cash flow after tax

    22,562  

Initial capital

    (7,402 )

Sustaining capital

    (1,723 )

Closure costs - trust fund

    (292 )

Total costs

    (30,248 )

Net after-tax cash flow

    13,145  
         

Payback period (years)

    7.3  

Operation life (years)

    27  

After-tax NPV 5% ($ million)

    3,040  

After-tax IRR

    9.2 %

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Operating Cost Estimates

 

   

$ million

   

$ per tonne processed

   

$ per tonne mined

   

$ per gold ounce sold

 

Mine operations

    8,430       16.70       2.58       278  

Processing operations

    6,916       13.70       2.12       228  

Administration

    1,761       3.49       0.54       58  

Land and royalty payments

    2,182       4.32       0.67       72  
      19,289       38.21       5.90       635  

 

Capital Cost Estimates

 

Initial capital costs are estimated at $7,402 million and sustaining capital costs are estimated at $1,723 million over the LOM.

 

Planned Mining Operations

 

The Donlin Gold project will be mined by a conventional truck-and-shovel operation. Initial pioneering and pit development will be undertaken to remove overburden, develop mine access roads suitable for large mining equipment, and “face-up” the initial pit for the large shovel and mining equipment.

 

Primary loading units for both bulk and selective mining in ore and waste will be large electric-hydraulic shovels, with large front-end loaders as secondary units. Large 360 tonne capacity haul trucks will be used for transporting both ore and waste out of the pit.

 

Blast hole drilling will be performed by medium-sized rotary and down-the-hole hammer drills with various hole diameters depending on bench height and desired mining selectivity. Reverse circulation (RC) drilling is planned for detailed geologic definition and grade control.

 

Support equipment will be used for road, bench, and dump maintenance and miscellaneous projects.

 

Planned Processing Operations

 

The Donlin Gold project ore will be processed by crushing and grinding, sulfide flotation concentration, concentrate treatment by pressure oxidation (POX) in an autoclave, carbon-in-leach (CIL) cyanide leaching of the oxidized concentrate, electrowinning, and refining to produce doré bars on site.

 

Due to gold being associated with sulfide mineralization, primarily arsenopyrite and pyrite, the ore is considered refractory and requires POX pre-treatment to liberate the gold prior to CIL leaching. Sulfide flotation concentration is required prior to POX to concentrate the sulfide content to a level sufficient to fuel the POX operation.

 

Concentrate is recovered from the primary rougher flotation followed by regrinding of the tailings prior to secondary rougher flotation. The secondary rougher concentrate is processed through a cleaner scavenger circuit producing a concentrate which is combined with the primary rougher concentrate for treatment by POX. The final tailings from the secondary rougher flotation tailings is thickened, and due to their neutralizing potential, is then utilized to modify the pH of the POX discharge solution prior to being transported to the TSF.

 

The oxidized concentrate from the POX operation would then be cyanide leached in a conventional CIL circuit to produce a pregnant (gold-bearing) solution. Gold from the solution is adsorbed onto activated carbon, which is later stripped (gold desorbed from carbon) in an elution circuit. The pregnant solution after elution is fed through electrowinning (EW) cells, where cathodes are plated with gold-bearing materials, which are periodically removed, dried in a retort, and melted in an induction furnace to produce doré bars.

 

Tailings from the CIL circuit would be treated in a cyanide detoxification process using SO2/air technology prior to being recombined with the flotation tailings and transported to the TSF.

 

Mercury naturally occurs in the Donlin Gold project ores and mercury abatement controls will be installed in six areas of the process facilities including POX, hot cure, EW, retort, refinery furnace, and carbon regeneration kiln. In these control systems, mercury will be collected for off-site shipment and management. Chemicals will be added to tailings to limit the potential for mercury releases from the TSF.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Proposed Production Plan and Schedule

 

Based on the S-K 1300 Report, the operating mine life is estimated to be 27 years with the nominal processing rate of 53,500 tonnes per day. Commercial gold production is expected after a period of approximately 6 years for basic and detailed engineering, and construction. In addition, the Donlin Gold board must approve a construction program and budget before construction of the Donlin Gold project can begin. The timing of the initiation of the required engineering work, of the Donlin Gold board’s approval of a construction program and budget, market conditions, and receipt of all required governmental permits and approvals will determine whether and when construction of the Donlin Gold project will begin.

 

Preproduction covers the first 15 months of the mine plan, when mining activities will focus on providing sufficient ore exposure for plant start-up. Ore mined during preproduction will be stockpiled and rehandled to the process during operations. Average mine production increases progressively in the initial years until the peak rate of 425,000 tonnes per day is reached in Year 6.

 

Proposed Waste Rock Facility (WRF)

 

Waste rock from open pit mining will be placed in an ex-pit WRF in the American Creek Valley, east of the pit area, or in a backfill dump in the ACMA pit. The ultimate footprint of the WRF covers an area of approximately 9 square kilometers. Approximately 2,232 million tonnes of waste rock and overburden will be placed in the WRF, and 423 million tonnes will be placed in the ACMA pit backfill dump. Approximately 103 million tonnes of waste rock will be used for construction purposes, and 17 million tonnes of overburden will be stockpiled and used later for reclamation purposes.

 

The potential magnitude of flow in the American Creek drainage, as well as discharge from springs in the valley floors, warrants the construction of an engineered rock drain system below the waste rock facility, including connecting secondary rock (finger) drains in the smaller contributing drainages.

 

Waste rock will be characterized by its potential for acid generation and assigned reactivity categories. Non-acid-generating (NAG) rock will be placed directly in the WRF, along with less reactive potentially acid-generating (PAG) rock, PAG5. Some of the more reactive PAG rock, PAG6, will be encapsulated in cells in the WRF to prevent water infiltration through them. The most reactive PAG rock, PAG7, will be backfilled in the ACMA pit beneath the ultimate pit lake water level.

 

Concurrent reclamation of the waste rock facility will be undertaken during operations.

 

Proposed Tailings Storage Facility (TSF)

 

The TSF in the Anaconda Creek basin will be a fully lined impoundment with a cross valley dam downstream (“main dam”) in the valley. The tailings dam will be constructed of compacted rock fill using the downstream method with a composite liner on the upstream face. The tailings impoundment footprint will be lined with a linear low-density polyethylene liner over a layer of broadly graded silty sand and gravel acting as low permeability bedding material and providing secondary containment. Material for construction will be sourced from the plant site and fuel farm during initial construction and from the open pit for the later raises during operations.

 

Water Diversion Dams

 

Water dams are required during the construction period and initial years of operation to protect the lined upstream face of the tailings-starter dam from a significant flood event, to provide a reliable source of fresh water during operation of the process plant, and to minimize runoff into the TSF.

 

Current and Planned On-Site Infrastructure

 

Current site infrastructure comprises an all-season, soft-sided camp with facilities consisting of kitchen, living quarters, equipment shop, drill shack and other buildings required for support of year-round exploration activities.

 

There is sufficient area within the project area to host an open pit mining operation, including the proposed open pit, waste rock facility, TSF and process facilities (primary and pebble crushers, coarse ore conveyor and coarse ore stockpile, concentrator, flotation, water treatment plants, POX, oxygen plant, boiler house, utility corridors, leach, refinery, cyanide destruct, and access walkways). Other planned site infrastructure is comprised of access roads, airstrip, accommodation camp, fuel tank farm, and dual-fueled power plant, truck shop, truck wash, workshops and vehicle repair facilities, assay laboratory, administration facilities and change rooms. Donlin Gold has secured the surface rights for the areas that may host these facilities.

 

In the nearby villages, Crooked Creek has approximately 105 residents and Aniak has a population of approximately 500. The workforce for the project would be sourced from the local area, from Alaskan regional centers and from other sources as required.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

The project is a greenfield site. The on-site infrastructure for the project includes three main development sites in remote locations: the mine and plant site area (including the power plant), the permanent camp, and the airstrip. The plant site, power plant and fuel tank farm will be on a ridge above the proposed TSF. 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.

 

Planned Off-site Infrastructure

 

The off-site infrastructure for the project includes three main development sites in remote locations: the Jungjuk Port site and mine access road; the natural gas pipeline; and the Bethel Port facilities. The Jungjuk Port site is situated upriver from Bethel on the Kuskokwim River near the mouth of Jungjuk Creek. A port-to-mine access road (Jungjuk Road), approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) long, will traverse varied terrain from the Jungjuk Port site to the mine site. A spur road, approximately 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long, will serve the proposed project airstrip. The primary purpose of the Jungjuk Road is to transport freight and diesel from the Jungjuk Port site to the mine site, mostly by conventional highway tractors, tankers, and trailers. The natural gas pipeline is described under the Power heading below. The proposed Bethel Port will be situated near the town of Bethel, a community of approximately 6,080 residents, that is the main existing port on the Kuskokwim River and is an administrative and transportation hub for the 56 villages in the Y-K region. The existing Port of Bethel is the northernmost medium-draft port in the United States and is served by ocean-going barges. The proposed port would serve as a trans-shipment point from ocean barges to river barges to supply the project during the summer ice-free period.

 

Power

 

Natural gas will be delivered to site by an approximately 507-kilometer, 356-millimeter (14 inch) diameter pipeline to supply an on-site power generation facility. The S-K 1300 Report contemplates that the electric power for the site will be generated from a dual-fueled (natural gas and diesel), reciprocating engine power plant with a steam turbine utilizing waste heat recovery from the engines. The power plant consists of two equal halves, each consisting of six reciprocating engines, and a separate steam turbine. The total generation facility is nominally rated at 182 MW initially and will increase to 215 MW after four years with the addition of two more generators (one in each half) to allow for N+2 redundancy, thus allowing planned maintenance and predicted outages without cutting back production.

 

Operating costs are based on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship to Anchorage and total delivery cost to site which includes regasification of the LNG and delivery from Anchorage to the Donlin Gold project via the pipeline.

 

The pipeline would commence at the west end of the Beluga Gas Field, approximately 48 kilometers northwest of Anchorage at a tie-in near Beluga located in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and would run to the mine site. The pipeline would receive booster compression supplied by one compressor station. No additional compression along the pipeline route would be required. The pipeline would have capacity to transport approximately 2 million cubic meters per day of natural gas.

 

Water

 

Water requirements for the proposed project have been summarized in a Water Resources Management Plan, which has been subject to review by state and federal agencies. Water primarily will be sourced from the two drainages (American and Anaconda Creeks) within the mine footprint and pit dewatering. In some years, the water supply from these sources may not be able to meet the makeup water requirements for the plant. In these circumstances, additional water will be obtained primarily from a proposed reservoir in Snow Gulch.

 

The source of water supply for the construction camp and, later, the plant site potable water systems is an array of eight deep wells south of Omega Gulch, near Crooked Creek. Water supply will be pumped to freshwater storage tanks and will be treated prior to consumption.

 

Markets

 

The marketing plan is for the owners of Donlin Gold to take in-kind their respective shares of the gold production, which they can then sell for their own benefit. Under the LLC Agreement, the manager shall give the members prompt notice in advance of the delivery date upon which their respective shares of gold production will be available.

 

Since there are a large number of available gold purchasers, the members should not be dependent upon the sale of gold to any one customer. Gold can be sold to various gold bullion dealers or smelters on a competitive basis at spot prices.

 

It is expected that selling contracts for NOVAGOLD’s share of the gold production will be typical of, and consistent with, standard industry practice, and be similar to contracts for the supply of doré elsewhere in the world.

 

 

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Taxation

 

The S-K 1300 Report contemplates that the following taxes may be levied on the project:

 

 

Federal income tax – 21%.

 

 

Alaska state income tax – 9.4% of net income.

 

 

Alaska state mining license tax – 7% of taxable mining income. There is a tax holiday applied for the first 3.5 years from the start of production.

 

Income tax becomes payable after deductions for capital allowances.

 

Financial results

 

The total initial capital cost estimate for the Donlin Gold project is $7.4 billion. The project’s estimated after-tax NPV at a 5% discount rate is $3,040 million with an IRR after-tax at 9.2% using the base case gold price of $1,500 per ounce. The undiscounted break-even gold price is $930 per ounce and at a 5% discount rate is $1,180 per ounce. In the S-K 1300 Report, the overall economic viability of the project was evaluated by both discounted and undiscounted cash flow analyses, based on the engineering studies and cost estimates discussed in the S-K 1300 Report.

 

Assumptions in the model comprised:

 

 

Costs prior to project Year -6, the start of basic and detailed engineering, are considered sunk. For discounted cash flow (or NPV) purposes, the model commences in Year -6. Estimates were prepared for all the individual elements of cash revenue and cash expenditures for ongoing operations.

 

 

Estimated cash flows from revenue are based on a gold price of $1,500 per ounce. The pit has been optimized at a gold price of $1,200 per ounce.

 

 

Gold recovery is estimated to average 89.8% over the LOM based on work and testing performed for at least pre-feasibility study purposes.

 

 

Doré refining and shipping charges were estimated at $1.21 per ounce based on escalating to 2020 the actual refining charges for Barrick’s Goldstrike operations and a quotation for transportation and insurance costs from the Donlin Gold project site to a U.S.-based refinery utilized in 2011. In addition, 0.1% of gold produced from the mine is deducted as a cost of refining.

 

 

The current hydrometallurgical process selection renders any contained silver into a greater refractory state, which provides less than 10% silver recovery through standard metal leaching. As a consequence, silver is not included in the Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve estimates, and no silver credit has been applied to the project.

 

 

To fund the $1,361 million reclamation and closure costs, the Project provides $412 million at closure by contributing to a Trust Fund commencing in Year -5 and continuing through the end of operations with annual contributions of $7.8 million. In addition to the Trust Fund, financial assurance in the form of letters of credit and/or surety bonds is required to construct and operate the mine. Per the Donlin Gold Project Reclamation Plan Approval from ADNR, financial assurance in the amount of approximately $322 million must be submitted in a form and substance approved by ADNR. The cost to maintain this financial assurance is assumed to be 0.4% of the total assured amount, annually. This equates to approximately $1.3 million per year, paid from the start of construction through the end of operations.

 

 

No salvage is assumed at the end of operations.

 

Current Activities

 

For information on current activities, see section Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, below.

 

Change in Mineral Resources and Reserves from 2020 to 2021

 

There were no changes in reported mineral resources and reserves reported for the years ended November 30, 2020 and 2021.

 

Mineral Resource and Reserve Internal Controls

 

Sample collection, preparation, analysis and security for all Donlin Gold core drill programs are in line with industry-standard methods for gold deposits. 

 

 

Drill programs included insertion of blank, duplicate and SRM samples

 

Quality Assurance/Quality Control program results do not indicate any problems with the analytical programs

 

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Data is subject to validation, which includes checks on surveys, collar coordinates, lithology data, and assay data. The checks are appropriate, and consistent with industry standards

 

Independent data audits have been conducted and indicate that the sample collection and database entry procedures are acceptable

 

All core has been catalogued and stored in designated areas.

 

Mineral resources and mineral reserves are estimates that are imprecise and depend upon geologic interpretation and statistical inferences drawn from drilling and sampling analysis, which may prove to be unreliable.  See Risk Factors  The quantities for our mineral resources and mineral reserves are estimates based on interpretation and assumptions and may yield less mineral production under actual conditions than is currently estimated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

 

Periodically, we are a party to or otherwise involved in legal proceedings arising in the normal course of business. Management does not believe that there is any pending or threatened proceeding against the Company which, if determined adversely, would have a material adverse effect on our financial position, liquidity or results of operations. There are no material proceedings pursuant to which any of our directors, officers or affiliates or any owner of record or beneficial owner of more than 5% of our securities or any associate of any such director, officer or securityholder is a party adverse to us or has a material interest adverse to us.

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Pursuant to Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act, issuers that are operators, or that have a subsidiary that is an operator, of a coal or other mine in the United States are required to disclose specified information about mine health and safety in their periodic reports. These reporting requirements are based on the safety and health requirements applicable to mines under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (the “Mine Act”) which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). During the fiscal year ended November 30, 2021, the Company and its subsidiaries were not subject to regulation by MSHA under the Mine Act and thus no disclosure is required under Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Donlin Gold LLC is the operator of the Donlin Gold project. Donlin Gold LLC is not a “subsidiary” of the Company for purposes of Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act because the Company does not control Donlin Gold LLC.

 

 

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PART II

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Market Information

 

Our common shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE American) and on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol “NG.” On January 19, 2022, there were 592 holders of record of our shares, which does not include shareholders for which shares are held in nominee or street name. We believe that more than half of our common shares are beneficially owned by investors in the United States.

 

Dividends

 

We have never declared or paid dividends on our common shares and our current business plan requires that, for the foreseeable future, any future earnings be reinvested to finance growth and development of our business. We will pay dividends on our common shares only if and when declared by our Board. In determining whether to declare dividends, the Board will consider our financial condition, results of operations, working capital requirements, future prospects, and other factors it considers relevant.

 

Certain Canadian Federal Income Tax Considerations for U.S. Residents

 

The following summarizes certain Canadian federal income tax consequences generally applicable under the Income Tax Act (Canada) and the regulations enacted thereunder (collectively, the “Canadian Tax Act”) and the Canada-United States Income Tax Convention (1980) (the “Convention”) to the holding and disposition of common shares.

 

This comment is restricted to holders of common shares each of whom, at all material times for the purposes of the Canadian Tax Act and the Convention, (i) is resident solely in the United States, (ii) is entitled to the benefits of the Convention, (iii) holds all common shares as capital property, (iv) deals at arm’s length with and is not affiliated with NOVAGOLD, (v) does not and is not deemed to use or hold any common shares in a business carried on in Canada, (vi) is not an insurer that carries on business in Canada and elsewhere and (vii) is not a “specified shareholder” (as defined in subsection 18(5) of the Canadian Tax Act) of NOVAGOLD (each such holder, a “U.S. Resident Holder”).

 

Certain U.S.-resident entities that are fiscally transparent for United States federal income tax purposes (including limited liability companies) may not in all circumstances be entitled to the benefits of the Convention. Members of or holders of an interest in such an entity that holds common shares should consult their own tax advisers regarding the extent, if any, that the benefits of the Convention will extend to the entity in respect of its common shares. This summary does not deal with special situations such as the particular circumstances of traders or dealers or holders who have entered into a “derivative forward agreement” (as defined in the Canadian Tax Act) in respect of the common shares. Such holders should consult their own tax advisors.

 

Generally, a U.S. Resident Holder’s common shares will be considered to be capital property of a U.S. Resident Holder provided that the U.S. Resident Holder does not use the common shares in the course of carrying on a business of trading and dealing in securities and has not acquired the common shares in one or more transactions considered to be an adventure or concern in the nature of trade (i.e. speculation).

 

This summary is based on the current provisions of the Canadian Tax Act and the Convention in effect on the date hereof, all specific proposals to amend the Canadian Tax Act and Convention publicly announced by or on behalf of the Minister of Finance (Canada) on or before the date hereof, and the current published administrative and assessing policies of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It is assumed that all such amendments will be enacted as currently proposed, and that there will be no other material change to any applicable law or administrative or assessing practice, whether by judicial, legislative, governmental, or administrative decision or action, although no assurance can be given in these respects. Except as otherwise expressly provided, this summary does not take into account any provincial, territorial or foreign tax considerations, which may differ materially from those set out herein.

 

Currency conversion

 

For the purposes of the Canadian Tax Act, all amounts relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of common shares, including dividends and proceeds of disposition must be determined in Canadian dollars based on the daily exchange rate of the Bank of Canada on the particular day, or such other rate of exchange as acceptable to the CRA.

 

 

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Dividends on common shares

 

Under the Canadian Tax Act, dividends on shares paid or credited to a non-resident of Canada will be subject to Canadian withholding tax at the rate of 25% of the gross amount of the dividends. Under the Convention, a U.S. resident will generally be subject to Canadian withholding tax at the rate of 15% of the gross amount of such dividends unless the beneficial owner is a company which owns at least 10% of the voting shares of NOVAGOLD at that time, in which case the rate of Canadian withholding tax is generally reduced to 5%.

 

Disposition of common shares

 

A U.S. Resident Holder will not be subject to tax under the Canadian Tax Act in respect of any capital gain realized by such U.S. Resident Holder on a disposition of common shares unless the common shares constitute “taxable Canadian property” (as defined in the Canadian Tax Act) of the U.S. Resident Holder at the time of disposition and the U.S. Resident Holder is not entitled to relief under the Convention.

 

Generally, a U.S. Resident Holder’s common shares will not constitute “taxable Canadian property” of the U.S. Resident Holder at a particular time at which the common shares are listed on a “designated stock exchange” (which currently includes the TSX and NYSE American) unless at any time during the 60‑month period immediately preceding a disposition both of the following conditions are true:

 

 

(i)

the U.S. Resident Holder, any one or more persons with whom the U.S. Resident Holder does not deal at arm’s length, or partnership in which the U.S. Resident Holder or persons with whom the U.S. Resident Holder did not deal at arm’s length holds a membership interest directly or indirectly through one or more partnerships, alone or in any combination, owned 25% or more of the issued shares of any class or series of the capital stock of NOVAGOLD; and

 

 

(ii)

more than 50% of the fair market value of the common shares was derived directly or indirectly from, or from any combination of, real or immovable property situated in Canada, “Canadian resource properties” (as defined in the Canadian Tax Act), “timber resource properties” (as defined in the Canadian Tax Act), or options in respect of, interests in or civil law rights in, such properties whether or not it exists.

 

In certain circumstances, a common share may also be deemed to be “taxable Canadian property” for purposes of the Canadian Tax Act.

 

Even if the common shares constitute “taxable Canadian property” to a U.S. Resident Holder, under the Convention, such a U.S. Resident Holder will not be subject to tax under the Canadian Tax Act on any capital gain realized by such holder on a disposition of such common shares, provided the value of such common shares is not derived principally from real property situated in Canada (within the meaning of the Convention).

 

U.S. Resident Holders whose shares are taxable Canadian property should consult their own tax advisors.

 

Certain United States Federal Income Tax Considerations for U.S. Holders

 

There may be material U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders in relation to an acquisition or disposition of common shares or other securities of the Company. U.S. holders should consult their own legal, accounting and tax advisors regarding such tax consequences under United States, state, local or foreign tax law regarding the acquisition or disposition of our common shares or other securities, in particular the tax consequences if the Company is or becomes a “passive foreign investment company” (commonly known as a “PFIC”) within the meaning of Section 1297 of the United States Internal Revenue Code.

 

Current and potential U.S. holders of our common shares should be aware that we believe we were a PFIC for the fiscal year ended November 30, 2021, and based on current business plans and financial expectations, may be a PFIC in the current tax year and future tax years. No opinion of legal counsel or ruling from the IRS concerning the status of the Company as a PFIC has been obtained or is currently planned to be requested. PFIC classification is fundamentally factual in nature, generally cannot be determined until the close of the tax year in question and is determined annually. Additionally, the analysis depends, in part, on the application of complex U.S. federal income tax rules, which are subject to differing interpretations. In any tax year in which we are a PFIC, shareholders that are U.S. holders will be required to file an annual report with the Internal Revenue Service containing such information as Treasury Regulations or other tax rules may require.

 

 

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Any gain recognized on the sale of common shares of a PFIC, and any excess distributions paid on the common shares of a PFIC must be ratably allocated to each day in a U.S. holder’s holding period for the common shares. The amount of any such gain or excess distribution allocated to prior years of such U.S. holder’s holding period for the common shares generally will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the highest tax applicable to ordinary income in each such prior year, and the U.S. holder will be required to pay interest on the resulting tax liability for each such prior year, calculated as if such tax liability had been due in each such prior year.

 

Alternatively, a U.S. holder that makes a timely “QEF election” generally will be subject to U.S. federal income tax on such U.S. holder’s pro rata share of our “net capital gain” and “ordinary earnings” (calculated under U.S. federal income tax rules), regardless of whether such amounts are actually distributed by us. As a second alternative, a U.S. holder may make a “mark-to-market election” if we are a PFIC and the common shares are marketable stock under applicable Treasury Regulations. A U.S. holder that makes a mark-to-market election generally will include in gross income, for each taxable year in which we are a PFIC, an amount equal to the excess, if any, of (a) the fair market value of the common shares as of the close of such taxable year over (b) such U.S. holder’s tax basis in such common shares. U.S. holders are advised to consult their own tax advisors regarding the PFIC rules, including the elections that may be available.

 

For each tax year that the Company determines that it is a PFIC, upon the written request of a U.S. holder, the Company will make available to such U.S. holder all information and documentation that a U.S. holder making a QEF election with respect to the Company is required to obtain for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Such information may be included on the Company’s website.

 

In addition, U.S. holders will not be eligible for preferential tax rates on dividends paid by the Company if the Company is a PFIC in the tax year of such dividend distribution or in the preceding tax year.

 

U.S. holders should consult their own legal, accounting and tax advisors regarding the tax consequences of holding and disposing of common shares and other securities of the Company.

 

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

 

None.

 

Repurchase of Securities

 

None.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Item 7.

Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)

 

The following Management’s Discussion and Analysis (“MD&A”) provides information that management believes is relevant to an assessment and understanding of the consolidated financial condition and results of operations of NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC., incorporated in British Columbia, Canada, and its subsidiaries (collectively, “NOVAGOLD,” the “Company,” “our” and “we”). This item should be read in conjunction with our Consolidated Financial Statements and the notes thereto included in this annual report.

 

The following MD&A generally discusses our consolidated financial condition and results of operations for 2021 and 2020 and year-to-year comparisons between 2021 and 2020. Discussions of our consolidated financial condition and results of operations for 2019 and year-to-year comparisons between 2020 and 2019 are included in Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended November 30, 2020, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 27, 2021, are incorporated by reference into this MD&A.

 

Overview

 

We operate in the gold mining industry, primarily focused on advancing the Donlin Gold project in Alaska. The Donlin Gold project is held by Donlin Gold LLC (“Donlin Gold”), a limited liability company owned equally by wholly-owned subsidiaries of NOVAGOLD and Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”).

 

Our corporate goals include continuing to advance the Donlin Gold project toward a construction decision; maintaining support for Donlin Gold among the project’s stakeholders; promoting a strong safety, sustainability, and environmental culture; maintaining a favorable reputation of NOVAGOLD; and preserving a healthy balance sheet. Our operations primarily relate to the delivery of project milestones, including the achievement of various technical, environmental, sustainable development, economic and legal objectives, obtaining necessary permits, completion of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, preparation of engineering designs and the financing to fund these objectives.

 

COVID-19 response

 

The Company has implemented policies at its offices in Salt Lake City and Vancouver designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and the people associated with them. In that regard, to reduce risk, our employees have been encouraged to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, have been asked to work remotely, avoid all non-essential business travel, adhere to good hygiene practices, and engage in physical distancing. Continuation of COVID-19 in 2022 and beyond could impact employee health, workforce productivity, insurance premiums, ability to travel, the availability of industry experts, personnel and equipment, restrictions or delays to field work, studies, and assay results, and other factors that will depend on future developments that may be beyond our control.

 

At Donlin Gold, with dedicated community partners in Alaska and in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) region, who share the objective of protecting the health of Donlin Gold’s employees and contractors, a wide-ranging set of policies have been implemented at the Donlin Gold project site and Anchorage office designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

 

The plan includes:

 

 

testing of all personnel prior to visiting the Donlin Gold project site;

 

testing on the third day after their arrival at camp;

 

additional testing for direct local hires ahead of returning to their villages to reduce the spread of the virus where minimal health services are available;

 

utilizing charters to safely deliver employees to and from camp to minimize in-region travel;

 

screening and physical distancing measures while at camp;

 

more frequent sanitization practices; and

 

increased communication around hygiene and sanitization practices, as well as identification of symptoms.

 

The first positive cases at the Donlin Gold project site occurred in early October, 2021, just prior to the planned end-of-season closure. One individual after arrival to camp tested positive for COVID. The individual was immediately isolated and removed from site (by private charter flight) and quarantined in Anchorage for 10 days. In addition, contract tracing was conducted, and all close contacts were tested and isolated. Three more positive cases occurred in the following days. Additional responses taken included: daily testing of remaining site personnel, anyone wishing to depart the site was allowed to leave, no new personnel were allowed at site, and the final field activities were completed with the remaining site personnel.

 

 

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Donlin Gold

 

Community engagement

 

As a neighbor to others in the Y-K region and as a team largely made up of people from the area, Donlin Gold strives to aid communities with support and resources, particularly when health and safety are of concern. Donlin Gold is committed to support the needs of its community partners. Donlin Gold continues to make progress in formalizing its community relationships and finding common ground with Shared Value Statements with eight villages from the Y-K region (Akiak, Sleetmute, Napaimute, Crooked Creek, Napaskiak, Nikolai, Tuluksak and Upper Kalskag) that confirm current engagement with key local communities. These agreements include educational, environmental, and social initiatives to help provide support for these villages.

 

For the 2021 season, Donlin Gold hired employees from 20 Y-K communities. In an area with high unemployment and fewer job choices than in urban environments, the work experience and skills training that Donlin Gold provides is attractive and employees are encouraged to bring their safety knowledge into their home village. Local community involvement in the project is core to both Barrick’s and NOVAGOLD’s philosophy, and approximately 70% of Donlin Gold direct hires for this year’s drill program were Alaska Natives.

 

Despite the challenges over the last two years, Donlin Gold has expanded community engagement programs and support related to environmental management, safety, training, educational, health and cultural initiatives. In August, Donlin Gold held the fourth annual “In it for the Long Haul” backhaul project with approximately 180,000 pounds of hazardous and electronic waste removed from 26 villages throughout the Y-K region. Multiple entities and tribes came together to assist Y-K Delta region villages with the removal and safe disposal of the waste. Over the last five years, nearly 400,000 pounds of waste has been safely removed that would otherwise end up in landfills, in waterways or in areas harmful to families and children. In the fall of 2021, Donlin Gold entered into a sponsorship agreement with Alaska School Activities Association to underwrite statewide sports. This includes supporting student athletes, musicians, and other activities in the Y-K region and across Alaska.

 

Donlin Gold also responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing aid to local communities with support and resources, particularly when health and safety are of concern. The State of Alaska, Calista, and Donlin Gold worked to send fish from Bristol Bay to the Yukon villages impacted by the closure of the salmon fishery to commercial and subsistence fishing. Donlin Gold assisted with distribution and logistics to deliver fish to more communities on the Yukon River who had been devastated by the dismal numbers of returning salmon to their river. In partnership with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, sent the Calricaraq team to travel to area villages to support residents and families who have lost a loved one to suicide, a heightened challenge in remote villages, especially during the pandemic. Donlin Gold partnered with KSKO Radio to purchase hand-held radios for five middle Kuskokwim villages. This initiative expands the reach of public radio to communities where internet connectivity is severely lacking. Every home will now have an information source for important updates from the Y-K region, to include local news and weather updates.

 

Environmental

 

During the 2021 field season at the Donlin Gold project site, there were no spills to water and no spills of greater than 10 gallons to land. There were no spills that required reporting to government agencies. In 2021, Donlin Gold received two administrative Notices of Violation (NOVs): one related to stormwater for failure to file an administrative report in 2019 and failure to train all staff in 2018 even though there was no field program that year, and one under the site’s air permit for failure to submit one operating report in 2020. No penalties were issued for either NOV. Also in 2021, ADEC conducted a permit compliance inspection at the site, which yielded no instances of non-compliance for the 2021 field program. Donlin Gold further continued updating its site baseline data, including monitoring water quality and fisheries.

 

Permitting

 

The State’s Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 certification (the “401 Certification”) of the Federal CWA Section 404 permit was formally appealed to the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in June 2020, and the ADEC Commissioner referred the appeal to an Administrative Law Judge for review. The appeal focused on three narrow issues related to compliance with the State’s water quality standards near the mine site. On April 12, 2021, the Administrative Law Judge issued his opinion for the Commissioner’s consideration recommending the 401 Certification be vacated. The Commissioner issued his decision to uphold the 401 Certification on May 27, 2021. The decision was appealed on June 28, 2021 in Alaska’s Superior Court by a San Francisco-based activist law firm on behalf of ONC. On December 29, 2021, the Court issued an order remanding the 401 Certification to ADEC for consideration of additional technical information provided by Donlin Gold and dismissing the appeal in Alaska Superior Court without prejudice. The existing 401 Certification remains in effect during the remand period. Based on the remand schedule established by the Court order, ADEC’s decision is expected in the second quarter of 2022.

 

 

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In April 2020, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ (ADNR) Division of Oil and Gas agreed to reconsider its decision on the State Right-of-Way (ROW) agreement and lease authorization for the buried natural gas pipeline. Under the reconsideration, on September 10, 2020, the ADNR issued for additional public comment a revised Consideration of Comments document. This document describes how the ADNR considered public input that was solicited in the ROW review, including how cumulative effects are addressed in the decision. The comment period on the document ended on November 9, 2020. On July 19, 2021, the ADNR Commissioner completed the reconsideration and upheld the ROW agreement and lease authorization. On August 9, 2021, two parties requested that the Commissioner conduct a further reconsideration. The first party was Earthjustice representing ONC, Cook Inletkeeper, and three villages. The second party was an individual who operates an outdoor guiding business around the pipeline route. The Commissioner rejected both further reconsideration requests on August 19, 2021. On September 20, 2021, Earthjustice, representing ONC, Cook Inletkeeper, and three villages, filed an appeal of the State ROW in Alaska Superior Court. An appeal was also filed by the second party in September 2021. The two appeals have been consolidated into a single case that is pending before the Alaska Superior Court based in Anchorage, Alaska. ADNR is currently finalizing the Administrative Record for the ROW issuance for submittal to the Court after which the Court will establish a briefing schedule. We expect a decision on the appeal in the second half of 2022 or the first half of 2023.

 

In November 2020, the ADNR published an initial public notice for comment on Donlin Gold’s 12 applications for water rights for the mine site and transportation facilities, which closed on December 15, 2020. Water rights are for local surface water sources and groundwater to be used for process water, dust control, fire protection, and potable water. In March 2021, the ADNR held a second two-week public notice period, which closed on March 26, 2021. All the final Water Rights were issued on June 29, 2021 by ADNR’s Division of Mining Land and Water. In July, they were administratively appealed to the ADNR Commissioner by Earthjustice, ONC, and five villages. We expect a decision on the appeal by the Commissioner in 2022.

 

Donlin Gold, working with its Native Corporation partners, continues to support the State of Alaska to advance other permits and certificates needed for the project. The field work related to the issuance of the Alaska Dam Safety certificates, which is a multi-year commitment, was temporarily paused to concentrate on the 2020 and 2021 geological drill programs.

 

Donlin Gold is fortunate to have strong partnerships with Calista and TKC, owners of the mineral and surface rights, respectively. The project’s location on private land specially designated for mining activities through the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Donlin Gold’s commitment to meaningful tribal consultation throughout project development and permitting has been proven over decades of reliable and dependable engagement with the community.

 

Donlin Gold project

 

The 2021 drilling program included additional confirmation and extension drilling, focusing on further testing, orebody continuity, structural control, and geotechnical and geometallurgical data collection and analysis. In September 2021, Donlin Gold completed the drilling portion of a 79-hole program totaling approximately 24,264 meters in both the ACMA and Lewis deposit areas, including an additional 13 holes and 4,000 meters above the original 2021 plan. Assays were reported for 36 completed holes and 22 partial holes, encompassing 15,700 meters of length drilled. Assay results received to date for the 2021 drill program were disclosed in media releases on September 2 and December 1, 2021. Assays are anticipated to be completed by early 2022.

 

The newly obtained data will be incorporated into the geologic and resource model and should lead the owners to determine updated mining schedules and life of mine business plans. The focus will then shift to feasibility study work, subject to a formal decision by the Donlin Gold Board, and ultimately, to initiate the engineering work necessary to advance the project design before reaching a construction decision. The owners will advance the Donlin Gold project in a financially disciplined manner with a strong focus on engineering excellence, environmental stewardship, a strong safety culture and continued community engagement.

 

The Donlin Gold board must approve a construction program and budget before the Donlin Gold project can be developed. The timing of the required engineering work and the Donlin Gold board’s approval of a construction program and budget, the receipt of all required governmental permits and approvals, and the availability of financing, commodity price fluctuations, risks related to market events and general economic conditions among other factors, will affect the timing of and whether to develop the Donlin Gold project. Among other reasons, project delays could occur as a result of public opposition, litigation challenging permit decisions, requests for additional information or analysis, limitations in agency staff resources during regulatory review and permitting, project changes made by Donlin Gold, or any impact on operations from COVID-19.

 

Our share of funding for the Donlin Gold project in 2021 was $17,587, lower than our planned spending of $18,000 to $22,000 primarily due to environmental and community engagement work delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions and drill assay costs carried forward into 2022. In 2022, our share of Donlin Gold funding is expected to be approximately $30,000, including $21,000 for follow-up drilling, camp improvements and studies, and $9,000 for permitting, community engagement and administration.

 

 

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We record our interest in the Donlin Gold project as an equity investment, which results in our 50% share of Donlin Gold’s expenses being recorded in the income statement as an operating loss. The investment amount recorded on the balance sheet primarily represents unused funds advanced to Donlin Gold.

 

Consolidated Financial Results

 

The details of our Net loss are set forth below:

 

   

Years ended November 30,

         
   

2021

   

2020

   

Change

 

Net loss

  $ (40,536 )   $ (33,564 )   $ (6,972 )

Net loss per common share, basic and diluted

  $ (0.12 )   $ (0.10 )   $ (0.02 )

 

Net loss increased by $6,972 from 2020 to 2021, primarily due to the following:

 

 

Donlin Gold expenses increased by $2,123, primarily due to higher permitting and legal costs related to appeals filed on various State of Alaska permits and completion of assays from the 2020 drill program in 2021.

 

 

The $1,475 increase in corporate general and administrative expense is primarily due to $1,178 higher share-based compensation expense resulting from higher amortization of stock options and performance share units (PSUs). In 2018, the vesting period for stock options and PSUs was increased from two to three years and amortization was adjusted to match the vesting period, deferring a portion of the costs to future periods. Amortization in 2021 and in future periods, includes one third of the cost of each of the previous three years of stock option and PSU grants. Salaries and benefits were $325 higher due to annual wage increases and payroll taxes on stock option exercises.

 

 

Interest income decreased by $1,286 due to lower interest rates earned on cash and term deposits, partially offset by higher cash balances due to the receipt of $75,000 from Newmont on July 27, 2021.

 

 

A $938 remediation provision expense adjustment for the historic former New Gold House property in Nome, Alaska.

 

 

Accretion on notes receivable was $781 lower due to the maturity of the $75,000 note receivable.

 

 

The $751 recovery of deferred income taxes in 2020 resulted from the Company’s decision to file a consolidated U.S. income tax return for its U.S. subsidiaries commencing with the fiscal year ended November 30, 2020.

 

The increase in expenses was partially offset by favorable foreign exchange movements of $270, and a $200 gain on the sale of our interest in the San Roque mineral property in Argentina.

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Liquidity overview

 

At present, we believe we have sufficient working capital available to cover anticipated funding of the Donlin Gold project and corporate general and administrative costs until a decision to commence engineering and construction is reached by the Donlin Gold board for the Donlin Gold project, at which point substantial additional capital will be required. Future financings to fund construction are anticipated through debt, equity, project specific debt, and/or other means. Our continued operations are dependent on our ability to obtain additional financing or to generate future cash flows. However, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in our efforts to raise additional capital on terms favorable to us, or at all. For further information, see section Item 1A, Risk Factors Our ability to continue the exploration, permitting, development, and construction of the Donlin Gold project, and to continue as a going concern, will depend in part on our ability to obtain suitable financing.

 

Our anticipated expenditures in fiscal year 2022 are approximately $46,000, including $30,000 to fund the Donlin Gold project, $13,000 for corporate general and administrative costs, $2,000 for withholding taxes on share-based compensation and $1,000 for working capital and other items.

 

Our financial position includes the following as of November 30, 2021:

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents of $91,124.

 

 

Term deposits of $78,000 denominated in U.S. dollars and held at Canadian chartered banks with high investment-grade ratings and have maturities of one year or less.

 

 

Notes receivable of $25,000 due on the earlier of the completion of a Galore Creek feasibility study or July 27, 2023, and a note for $75,000 fully contingent upon approval of a Galore Creek project construction plan by the owner(s).

 

 

50

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

 

Promissory note payable to Barrick of $115,723, including accrued interest at U.S. prime plus 2%. The promissory note and accrued interest are payable from 85% of the Company’s share of revenue from future Donlin Gold project production or from any net proceeds resulting from a reduction of the Company’s interest in Donlin Gold.

 

Cash flows

 

Our Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows are summarized as follows:

 

   

Years ended November 30,

 
   

2021

   

2020

   

Change

 
                         

Operating activities

  $ (9,863 )   $ (10,020 )   $ 157  

Funding of Donlin Gold

    (17,587 )     (15,276 )     (2,311 )

Proceeds from note receivable

    75,000             75,000  

Net (purchases of) proceeds from term deposits

    (17,221 )     20,000       (37,221 )

Proceeds from sale of mineral property

    200             200  

Withholding tax on share-based compensation

    (731 )     (1,652 )     921  

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and other

    420       305       115  

Net change in cash and cash equivalents

  $ 30,218     $ (6,643 )   $ 36,861  

 

In 2021, the net increase in Cash and cash equivalents of $30,218 primarily resulted from the $75,000 note proceeds received from Newmont, partially offset by Donlin Gold funding of $17,587, net investments in term deposits of $17,221, and corporate operating activities of $9,863.

 

Net spending on operating activities decreased by $157 in 2021 from 2020 primarily due to the timing of corporate liability insurance payments; and COVID-19 resulting in reduced corporate travel, offset by higher salaries and benefits; and lower interest received on cash and term deposits due to lower interest rates.

 

Donlin Gold funding increased by $2,311 in 2021 from 2020 primarily due to higher permitting and legal costs due to: legal challenges to the State’s CWA Section 401 certification and the State’s ROW agreement and lease authorization for the buried natural gas pipeline; and completion of assays from the 2020 drill program in 2021.

 

Outstanding share data

 

As of January 19, 2022, the Company had 332,921,907 common shares issued and outstanding. Also, as of January 19, 2022, the Company had: i) a total of 10,278,096 stock options outstanding; 8,866,898 of those stock options with a weighted-average exercise price of $5.69 and the remaining 1,411,198 with a weighted-average exercise price of C$7.32; and ii) 1,299,300 PSUs and 315,140 deferred share units (DSUs) outstanding. Upon exercise of the foregoing convertible securities, the Company would be required to issue a maximum of 12,542,186 common shares.

 

Related party transactions

 

As of November 30, 2021, the Company has accounts receivable from Donlin Gold of nil (November 30, 2020: $6) included in Other current assets.

 

Fourth quarter results

 

During the fourth quarter of 2021, we incurred a net loss of $10,269 compared to a net loss of $7,000 for the comparable period in 2020. The increase in net loss primarily resulted from lower accretion income on Newmont notes receivable in 2021, activity at Donlin Gold extended into the fourth quarter of 2021, a provision for remediation of the former New Gold House mineral property near Nome, Alaska in 2021, and the recovery of income taxes in 2020 due to the filing of a consolidated income tax return for U.S. subsidiaries.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

We believe the following accounting policies are critical to our financial statements due to the degree of uncertainty regarding the judgements or assumptions involved and/or the magnitude of the asset, liability, or expense being reported.

 

Contingent note receivable

 

A portion of the proceeds on the sale of the Company’s 50% interest in the Galore Creek project to Newmont, included a contingent note for $75,000 receivable upon the approval of a Galore Creek project construction plan by the owner(s). The Company has assigned no value to the contingent note receivable as management determined that approval of Galore Creek project construction was not probable as of the closing of the Galore Creek sale, and management’s assessment did not change as of November 30, 2021. The contingent note will be recognized only when, in management’s judgement, payment is probable, and the amount recorded will not reverse in future periods.

 

Investment in affiliates

 

Investments in unconsolidated ventures over which the Company has the ability to exercise significant influence, but does not control, are accounted for under the equity method and include the Company’s investment in the Donlin Gold project. We identified Donlin Gold as a Variable Interest Entity (VIE) as the entity is dependent on funding from its owners. All funding, ownership, voting rights and power to exercise control is shared equally on a 50/50 basis between the owners of the VIE. Therefore, the Company has determined that it is not the primary beneficiary of the VIE. The Company’s maximum exposure to loss is its investment in Donlin Gold. Donlin Gold is a non-publicly traded equity investee holding exploration and development projects. The Company reviews and evaluates its investment in affiliates for other than temporary impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the related carrying amounts may not be recoverable. Events that could indicate impairment of an investment in affiliates include a significant decrease in long-term expected gold price, a significant increase in expected operating or capital costs, unfavorable exploration results or technical studies, a significant decrease in reserves, a loss of significant mineral claims, or a change in the development plan or strategy for the project. Asset impairment is considered to exist if the total estimated future cash flows on an undiscounted basis are less than the carrying amount of the asset. If the underlying assets are not recoverable, an impairment loss is measured and recorded based on the difference between the carrying amount of the investee and its estimated fair value which may be determined using a discounted cash flow model.

 

Income taxes

 

We account for income taxes under the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. Under the asset and liability method, the effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date. A valuation allowance is recognized if it is more likely than not that some portion or the entire deferred tax asset will not be recognized.

 

Share-based compensation

 

We grant share-based compensation awards in exchange for employee services, including a stock option plan and a PSU plan. The fair value of awards granted under the plans are recognized in the Consolidated Statements of Loss over the related service period. The fair values of stock options are estimated at the time of each grant using a Black‐Scholes option pricing model, and the fair values of PSUs are measured at each grant date using a Monte Carlo valuation model. The fair value estimates may be impacted by certain variables including, but not limited to, stock price volatility, employee stock option exercise behaviors, additional stock option grants, estimates of forfeitures, the Company's performance, and the Company’s performance in relation to its peers.

 

We grant members of our board of directors DSUs whereby each DSU entitles the directors to receive one common share of the Company when they retire from service with the Company. The fair value of the DSUs is measured at the date of the grant in amounts ranging from 50% to 100% of directors’ annual retainers at the election of the directors. The fair value is recognized in the Consolidated Statements of Loss over the related service period.

 

As of November 30, 2021, we had $2,496 of unrecognized compensation cost related to 3.36 million non-vested stock options expected to be expensed and vest over a period of approximately two years. Also, as of November 30, 2021, we had 1.583 million non-vested PSU awards outstanding of which 0.800 million were fully expensed and vested on December 1, 2021 with a multiplier of 93%. The remaining 0.783 million non-vested PSU awards with $3,338 of unrecognized compensation cost will be expensed over a period of approximately two years.

 

 

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NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

 

Our financial instruments are exposed to certain financial risks, including credit and interest rate risks.

 

Credit risk

 

Concentration of credit risk exists with respect to our cash and cash equivalents, term deposit investments, and notes receivable. All term deposits are held through Canadian chartered banks with high investment-grade ratings and have maturities of one year or less.

 

Notes receivable of $25 million upon the earlier of the completion of a Galore Creek project feasibility study or July 27, 2023 are due from a subsidiary of Newmont. Newmont is a publicly traded company with investment-grade credit ratings and has guaranteed the notes receivable.

 

Interest rate risk

 

The interest rate on the promissory note owed to Barrick is variable with the U.S. prime rate. Based on the amount owing on the promissory note as of November 30, 2021, and assuming all other variables remain constant, a 1% change in the U.S. prime rate would result in an increase/decrease of approximately $1.2 million in the interest accrued on the promissory note per annum. The promissory note and accrued interest are payable from 85% of the Company’s share of revenue from future mine production or from any net proceeds resulting from a reduction of the Company’s interest in Donlin Gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

53

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

To the Shareholders and Board of Directors of NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Opinions on the Financial Statements and Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. and its subsidiaries (together, the Company) as of November 30, 2021 and 2020, and the related consolidated statements of loss and comprehensive loss, cash flows and equity for each of the three years in the period ended November 30, 2021, including the related notes (collectively referred to as the consolidated financial statements). We also have audited the Company's internal control over financial reporting as of November 30, 2021, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).

 

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of November 30, 2021 and 2020, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended November 30, 2021 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also in our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of November 30, 2021, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the COSO.

 

Basis for Opinions

 

The Company's management is responsible for these consolidated financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in Report of Management on Internal Control over Financial Reporting appearing under Item 9A. Our responsibility is to express opinions on the Company’s consolidated financial statements and on the Company's internal control over financial reporting based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud, and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects.

 

Our audits of the consolidated financial statements included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the consolidated financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the consolidated financial statements. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.

 

Definition and Limitations of Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (i) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (ii) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (iii) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements. 

 

 

 

54

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

Critical Audit Matters

 

The critical audit matter communicated below is a matter arising from the current period audit of the consolidated financial statements that was communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that (i) relates to accounts or disclosures that are material to the consolidated financial statements and (ii) involved our especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgments. The communication of critical audit matters does not alter in any way our opinion on the consolidated financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matter below, providing a separate opinion on the critical audit matter or on the accounts or disclosures to which it relates. 

 

Recognition of the contingent note receivable

 

As described in Notes 2 and 4 to the consolidated financial statements, on July 27, 2018, the Company sold its interest in the Galore Creek project (the sale). As part of the consideration for the sale, the Company received a $75 million note (the contingent note receivable), which is contingent upon the approval of a Galore Creek project construction plan by the owner(s). The Company has not assigned a value to the contingent note receivable as management determined that Galore Creek project construction approval was not probable as of the closing of the Galore Creek sale or in subsequent periods. Management’s assessment did not change as of November 30, 2021. The contingent note will be recognized when, in management’s judgment, it is probable that the payment will occur, and that the amount recorded will not reverse in future periods.

 

The principal considerations for our determination that performing procedures relating to the recognition of the contingent note receivable is a critical audit matter are the judgment by management when determining if recognition was required, which in turn led to a high degree of auditor judgment and subjectivity in performing procedures and evaluating management’s assessment of the probability of whether a Galore Creek project construction plan will be approved.

 

Addressing the matter involved performing procedures and evaluating audit evidence in connection with forming our overall opinion on the consolidated financial statements. These procedures included testing the effectiveness of controls relating to management’s assessment of the basis for recognizing the contingent note receivable. These procedures also included, among others, evaluating the reasonableness of management’s assessment regarding the probability of the owner(s) of the project approving the Galore Creek project construction plan. This included considering both publicly available information and the latest annual progress report provided by the owner(s) of the project to the Company under the terms of the sale agreement.

 

 

 

 

/s/ PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

 

Chartered Professional Accountants

 

Vancouver, Canada

January 26, 2022

 

We have served as the Company's auditor since 1984.

 

55

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(US dollars in thousands)

 

 

  

As of November 30,

 
  

2021

  

2020

 

ASSETS

        

Cash and cash equivalents

 $91,124  $60,906 

Term deposits

  78,000   61,000 

Notes receivable (Note 4)

     72,611 

Other assets (Note 6)

  327   1,869 

Current assets

  169,451   196,386 

Notes receivable (Note 4)

  23,572   23,405 

Investment in Donlin Gold (Note 5)

  3,576   2,614 

Other assets (Note 6)

  2,253   2,036 

Total assets

 $198,852  $224,441 
         

LIABILITIES

 

Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

 $682  $900 

Accrued payroll and related benefits

  2,637   2,215 

Other liabilities (Note 9)

  1,064   394 

Current liabilities

  4,383   3,509 

Promissory note (Note 7)

  115,723   109,801 

Other liabilities (Note 9)

  464   404 

Total liabilities

  120,570   113,714 
         

Commitments and contingencies (Notes 7 and 8)

          
         

EQUITY

 

Common shares

        

Authorized – 1,000 million shares, no par value

        

Issued and outstanding – 332.4 and 330.4 million shares, respectively

  1,978,520   1,972,029 

Contributed surplus

  82,216   81,203 

Accumulated deficit

  (1,959,165)  (1,918,629)

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

  (23,289)  (23,876)

Total equity

  78,282   110,727 

Total liabilities and equity

 $198,852  $224,441 

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

Approved by the Board of Directors

 

/s/ Gregory A. Lang                  /s/ Anthony P. Walsh

 

 

 

 

56

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF LOSS AND COMPREHENSIVE LOSS

(US dollars in thousands except per share amounts)

 

   

Years ended November 30,

 
   

2021

   

2020

   

2019

 

Operating expenses:

                       

General and administrative (Note 12)

  $ 20,210     $ 18,735     $ 16,321  

Equity loss - Donlin Gold (Note 5)

    16,625       14,502       10,491  
      36,835       33,237       26,812  
                         

Loss from operations

    (36,835 )     (33,237 )     (26,812 )

Interest expense on promissory note (Note 7)

    (5,922 )     (6,014 )     (7,286 )

Accretion of notes receivable (Note 4)

    2,556       3,337       3,220  

Other income (expense), net (Note 14)

    (198 )     1,569       4,395  

Loss before income taxes

    (40,399 )     (34,345 )     (26,483 )

Income tax (expense) recovery (Note 15)

    (137 )     781       (1,278 )

Net loss

    (40,536 )     (33,564 )     (27,761 )
                         

Other comprehensive income (loss):

                       

Foreign currency translation adjustments

    587       932       48  
      587       932       48  
                         

Comprehensive loss

  $ (39,949 )   $ (32,632 )   $ (27,713 )
                         

Net loss per common share – basic and diluted

  $ (0.12 )   $ (0.10 )   $ (0.09 )
                         

Weighted average shares outstanding

                       

Basic and diluted (thousands)

    331,546       329,269       325,785  

 

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 

57

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

(US dollars in thousands)

 

   

Years ended November 30,

 
   

2021

   

2020

   

2019

 

Operating activities:

                       

Net loss

  $ (40,536 )   $ (33,564 )   $ (27,761 )

Adjustments:

                       

Equity loss – Donlin Gold

    16,625       14,502       10,491  

Share-based compensation

    8,235       7,057       6,176  

Interest expense on promissory note

    5,922       6,014       7,286  

Remediation expense

    938              

Foreign exchange loss (gain)

    336       606       (20 )

Accretion of notes receivable

    (2,556 )     (3,337 )     (3,220 )

Change in fair value of marketable securities

    (418 )     (431 )     (93 )

Gain on sale of mineral property

    (200 )            

Deferred income tax (recovery) expense

          (751 )     671  

Other operating adjustments

    7       19       15  

Net change in operating assets and liabilities (Note 17)

    1,784       (135 )     328  

Net cash used in operating activities

    (9,863 )     (10,020 )     (6,127 )
                         

Investing activities:

                       

Proceeds from term deposits

    141,578       81,000       219,000  

Purchases of term deposits

    (158,799 )     (61,000 )     (154,000 )

Proceeds from note receivable

    75,000              

Funding of Donlin Gold

    (17,587 )     (15,276 )     (11,122 )

Proceeds from sale of mineral property

    200              

Other

                (17 )

Net cash provided from investing activities

    40,392       4,724       53,861  
                         

Financing activities:

                       

Withholding tax on share-based compensation

    (731 )     (1,652 )     (1,197 )

Net cash used in financing activities

    (731 )     (1,652 )     (1,197 )
                         

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents

    420       305       8  

Net change in cash and cash equivalents

    30,218       (6,643 )     46,545  

Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of year

    60,906       67,549       21,004  

Cash and cash equivalents at end of year

  $ 91,124     $ 60,906     $ 67,549  

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 

58

NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF EQUITY

(US dollars and shares in thousands)

 

 

  

Common shares

  

Contributed

  

Accumulated

      

Total

 
  

Shares

  

Amount

  

Surplus

  

deficit

  

AOCL*

  

equity

 

November 30, 2018

  323,223  $1,954,861  $87,987  $(1,857,682) $(24,478) $160,688 

Cumulative-effect adjustment of adopting ASU No. 2016-01

           378   (378)   

Share-based compensation

        6,176         6,176 

Performance share units (PSUs) settled in shares

  438   2,737   (2,737)         

DSUs settled in shares

  32   120   (120)         

Stock options exercised

  3,937   7,855   (7,855)         

Withholding tax on PSUs

        (1,197)        (1,197)

Net loss

           (27,761)     (27,761)

Other comprehensive income

              48   48 

November 30, 2019

  327,630  $1,965,573  $82,254  $(1,885,065) $(24,808) $137,954 
                         

Share-based compensation

        7,057         7,057 

PSUs settled in shares

  410   1,026   (1,026)         

Stock options exercised

  2,372   5,430   (5,430)         

Withholding tax on PSUs

        (1,652)        (1,652)

Net loss

           (33,564)     (33,564)

Other comprehensive income

              932   932 

November 30, 2020

  330,412  $1,972,029  $81,203  $(1,918,629) $(23,876) $110,727 
                         

Share-based compensation

        8,235