Page 12 - NG_2018-AR.indd
P. 12

sector improves even slightly, we believe will be one of the “go-to” undeveloped assets in the space. This is our objective. For Electrum will only make money to the extent that our co-investors will. And we want to make a lot of money.
In order to meet this objective, we have not done a few basic things. First, we’ve never been tempted to use our cash or equity to do something stupid. Sadly for the fortunes of our industry, using common sense has been a differentiator in and of itself. As Voltaire put it, “Common sense is not so common.” If, by every metric, you believe you own one of the best assets on the planet, you don’t simply “deworsify,” as the famed Peter Lynch put it so well. Deal junkies we are not.
The second thing we haven’t done is over-promise and under-deliver. We’ve told the truth and done everything we said we were going to do. Everything. Before we were approached with the offer to do a capital- raising the last time, in January 2012, the newly minted CEO and Chairman of NOVAGOLD laid out a clear roadmap for our investors:
f We promised to spin off our Alaskan copper assets. That company, spun off as NovaCopper and now trading under the name Trilogy Metals to reflect its polymetallic attributes, has performed well – with hopefully much more good news to come.
f In order to make NOVAGOLD the pure play on Donlin in the marketplace, we promised to sell Galore Creek, a beautiful asset but “a project too far” for a development-stage company with a flagship as ambitious as Donlin Gold. We could have let Galore go in a fire sale. We didn’t. We sold it for real money
in a market where win-win monetization has been the exception, not the rule. The cash position we find ourselves in, with more guaranteed and potential payments to come, is the envy of our space.
f We said that, if given an opportunity to show the flexibility of the deposit, we would take it. The
drill results Donlin Gold delivered earlier this year blew through even our own expectations. Who gets 130 meters of 6 grams, and 64 meters of 5 grams?* We reckon these were some of the best drill results reported by any project for quite a while. There’s potentially a lot more gold at Donlin along the mineralized belt.
I believe my chief geologist was right when he suggested that “the next Donlin could be at Donlin.”
f Finally, we stated that this project would be permitted. When anyone pushed back, assuming Donlin must be in the same category as Pebble and that, as a consequence, permitting in Alaska would be a nightmare, we just shrugged our shoulders. The facts suggested the opposite. All we have ever heard from our local stakeholders and partners, the Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC), were strong indications of support. And, after a thorough search online, we couldn’t find any signs of brewing opposition. In fact, the only references to the project in 2012, from a media standpoint, were positive. Six years later, we received the first-ever joint federal record of decision – delivered in a formal ceremony in the presence of the lead agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – that included input from those who held the reasonable concerns that any big project would bring (but no substantial opposition). For those who know this industry, that’s an amazing occurrence practically anywhere in the world. And in a referendum that coincided with the November midterm elections, Alaskan voters rejected a proposition that would have added additional complexities to a resource development permitting process that is truly comprehensive and respectful of the environment and all its stakeholders.
The process leading to the ROD took six years. Not surprisingly, our team adopted an expression for NOVAGOLD’s steadfastness – “The Tortoise and the Hare” – highlighting the phenomenon of more advanced and higher-profile projects getting picked off by political turmoil while we chugged along, steadily but determinedly, to the finish line. As an environmentalist myself, I can assure you that we did not cut corners. And we never sought to do so. The process was worth every penny and every year to get it done right. As an investor, I can tell you that having permitted what may become the largest pure gold mine in the world, in a safe place
in the world, is like catnip. I reckon a lot more investors will own NOVAGOLD in due course. The only question will be at what price they purchase their shares. As for myself, having been in the story for 10 years, I have never been more excited about NOVAGOLD. I feel no investor fatigue or any of that stuff. I won’t claim that this is the
* As seen in the February 20, 2018 press release entitled “NOVAGOLD’s Donlin Gold Project Reports Excellent Results from 2017 Drill Program.”

   10   11   12   13   14