Thursday, August 9, 2012

Donlin Creek is one of the largest Potential Gold Developments in the World

The Northern Miner (2012, vol 98, no. 23) and NovaGold reported, "

Donlin is one of the largest potential gold developments in the world and NovaGold is moving ahead with the project alongside mega-miner Barrick Gold ...". 

NovaGold further stated, "The Donlin Gold project is an uniquely attractive asset which in terms of size, grade, exploration potential and jurisdictional safety, is quite possibly the most important project in the world today". 

Due to the extensive project, the mine is delayed until at least 2015. This giant gold deposit was discovered by seven geologists in 1988 and sampled and mapped in 1989. In alphabetical order: Mark Bronston, Richard Garnett, Paul Graff, W. Dan Hausel, Bruce Hickok, Toni Hinderman and Robert Retherford found this giant deposit. Three were either alumni or affiliated with the University of Wyoming.

Dr. Graff stands with Mrs. Lyman at site of plane crash on Snow Gulch,
Donlin Creek, Alaska, 1989. All survived, and this is common in Alaska.
Gold has been one of the primary reasons Alaska has done so well economically, and with the development of the Donlin Creek  and possibly the Pebble porphyry copper deposit, Alaska stands to gain two world-class mines located on two world-class deposits. Each of these two deposits eclipse the total amount of gold mined from the famous Klondike which produced about 18.3 million troy ounces over its entire history. Now that's a lot of gold (Donlin has essentially 41 million ounces of identified gold in place, slightly more than the famous Homestake ore body), and will likely increase as mining progresses.

I was recently asked, what does it feel like to have been on the discovery of what is now considered to be 'possibly' the most important mining project in the world today? "I feel proud, but at the same time, I wish I could have a little of the gold we found." "Just a little - a few bars or so would do".

Everyone is talking about Donlin Creek in the mining industry today - a single deposit that will yield  a minimum of 120 times more gold than mined during the entire history of Wyoming.
"It is an honor to have been recognized for the discovery of this giant deposit, and I'm sure the other 6 team members from WestGold who were on the discovery of this giant deposit feel the same". 

"I look forward to NovaGold and Barrick Gold developing this mine. I just wish WestGold would have survived the 1980s and that we could all be there working and developing this property we discovered in 1988. We found this giant deposit, but unfortunately, WestGold fell apart before it could develop Donlin into a gold mine".

Back in 1988 and 1989 while working as a consultant for WestGold (while on leave from the Wyoming Geological Survey), I was part of the discovery team of this giant gold deposit. Dr. Graff with Richard Garnett and Mark Bronston hired me because of my ability to produce detailed geological maps as well as having a reputation for finding gold deposits. I had already found gold deposits in the Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt, the Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belt and the South Pass greenstone belt in Wyoming. Prior to my finding gold in these Wyoming greenstone belts and mapping them, these favorable geological terrains were poorly understood.

I made many friends and had a great time in Alaska, especially working with my good friend Paul Graff (even if he can't tell the difference between elk droppings and picroilmenite - a personal joke). I have the greatest respect for Paul as well as Richard and Mark.  And thanks to Richard, we were presented the 2009 Thayer Lindsley Award for an International Mineral Discovery by the largest mining association in the world - the PDAC in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Paul was unhappy - someone threw his awful - err I mean entertaining
Mills Brothers tape into the pond outside the tent. We tried to find the 
culprit, but no one would confess. Personally, I think it was a grizzly bear
What is a Mills Brothers tape? It is a way to make all other music sound 
much better.
So, how did we find this deposit? It was by using science, geological techniques along with detailed geological mapping, trenching, sampling and drilling.  Unfortunately, we did not receive an royalties for this discovery - only our consulting fees.

But I must say, I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I had a great time in Alaska, learned more geology in a state I previously had little experience, and had a wonderful time pulling pranks on my buddy - Paul. I would have liked to have some of the gold, but the experience for me, was worth more than all of the gold at Donlin Creek.

For me, making the discovery with my 6 colleagues was much more important than money. Sure, it would be nice to have some of the gold and go out and buy a Ferrari, but money only lasts until the grim reaper shows up at your door step. After that, what we have done with our lives may live on for a few more generations. So, hopefully, you will all be reading about me in some textbook when I go knocking at the Gates.



Mapping on the ridge overlooking Snow Gulch (part of the Donlin Creek gold discovery) in 1988. I was hired by WestGold because of my expertise in detailed geological mapping and finding mineral deposits.  I thank Paul for bringing me into this project and for all of the constant fun he provided in camp.
Some people think I have a problem with authority. My boss, Dr. Paul,
came into the field to tell me to get back to work. (photo by Paul Graff).

Driving to work along the Queen trench at the Donlin Creek gold
discovery, 1988