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capital, even if the resumption of the gold bull market is delayed by a temporary downturn in gold price – including a sharp one. If anything, under certain circumstances, the company might determine that its shares are worth more than the metal itself and buy some back. Your management is nothing if not investor-friendly! Put differently, an investor can expect that, when gold is acknowledged to have put in its bottom, we will not have diluted our fully intact optionality on our reserve base in the slightest. For an investor, these robust downside protections provide a true differentiator. Though our stock may or may not go up during such a washout, our durability implies that we will be the equity our shareholders will least worry about in their portfolio.
15 We know the United States is as safe as it gets. Still, are you worried about lawsuits arising against the project?
The United States maintains among the most stringent standards worldwide for responsible mining activities. Federal agencies and the state of Alaska have experienced mining personnel in the industry, along with the government authorities to uphold those strict guidelines. It is indeed one of the reasons why NOVAGOLD is so enthusiastic about the United States as the world’s most favorable jurisdiction for responsible mining – and why your company is so special. The extra effort and time it takes to get permits in accordance with the rule of law constitute the best long-term guarantee of one’s commercial, social, and environmental license. Owning a federally permitted mine in the second-largest gold producing state in the union also represents an exceptionally valuable prize. The price for this success is that it is the rare mining project, regardless of its location, that is not subjected to challenge by someone, even after the issuance of permits, and irrespective of its environmental, socio-economic, or community merit.
We’re in great shape to deal with this. Ever since inception, Donlin Gold’s operating team and its Native partners – Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, owners of the mineral and surface rights, respectively – as well as its owners, Barrick Gold and NOVAGOLD, have advanced Donlin in a technically detailed, environmentally sound, and socially responsible manner with the full involvement of the communities directly and indirectly affected by the project. This extensive process was carried out in direct compliance with procedures outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as well as all other applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. Meanwhile, even since then, Alaska has shown that it is open for responsible development. In a referendum that coincided with the November midterm elections in 2018, 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. So if challenges arise, as they always do, I am confident that the rule of law will triumph, as it always does.
16 In a recent conversation for Real Vision, your interviewer made reference to what he called the “Kaplan Doctrine.” What did he mean by that?
My vanity and I are indebted to fellow gold bull Dan Tapiero for springing that one on me during our interview. He says that he first heard me describe a coherent philosophy on jurisdictional risk as being the gating factor for prudent natural resources investment a number of years ago – and that I have expressed it often enough over the past decade for him to give me the credit for identifying and acting upon this thesis. He is probably right about that. In any event, if he was looking to flatter me, it worked!
Like a reformed sinner, I have been evangelical regarding my epiphany about jurisdiction. Before going into energy in East Texas, I had made my bones in Bolivia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the Congo. At the time of
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