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Despite numerous challenges, Donlin Gold successfully completed a drill program in 2020 – the largest at the site in 12 years. Initially, 80 holes totaling 22,000 meters of drilling were planned in the ACMA and Lewis deposit areas to validate recently developed geologic and resource modeling concepts and high- grade mineralization controls.
Prior to re-opening the camp in late May, Donlin Gold met with community and tribal leaders throughout the Y-K region to ensure everyone agreed upon the new COVID-19 mitigation plan for those working at site, as approximately 80 percent of the project’s direct hires are Alaska Natives from the Y-K region. With extensive health and safety measures in place, employees were enthusiastic about returning to work at Donlin Gold and the owners were able to re- mobilize four drill rigs and complete the drilling in September 2020.
A total of 85 core holes were completed ahead of schedule
in 2020, encompassing 23,361 meters and exceeding our original plan. On March 25, 2021, NOVAGOLD and Barrick reported final assay results from the program. We were pleased to see that these represent some of the best in the gold industry for a large open-pit deposit and have yielded higher drilled grade-thicknesses than predicted by previous modelling, which are expected to improve the interpretation of gold mineralization controls. The program results should not only improve geologic interpretation, but also provide encouragement for additional high-grade drill targets. The work was carried out safely despite the rise of COVID-19 cases throughout Alaska. I commend the Donlin Gold, NOVAGOLD, and Barrick teams for completing the drilling while implementing new and comprehensive safety protocols in response to the pandemic. It was indeed a remarkable operational milestone for us to complete this work ahead of schedule and without any COVID-19 cases at the Donlin Gold site.
Over the past year, NOVAGOLD has developed an intentional and methodical process in shaping how the company reports information on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters to all stakeholders. It is a daunting task – as those in the investment community know – given the hundreds of frameworks being used globally to report and measure ESG performance.
In addition to evaluating those frameworks, our internal ESG
team sought input from proxy advisory firms, ESG professionals, institutional investors, pension plan fund managers, and other peers. We also worked with Barrick on forming a compatible and synchronized approach to reporting ESG information for Donlin Gold. As a result, NOVAGOLD gained insight on best practices from a wide range of stakeholders and businesses in this area to help strike the right balance in ESG disclosures, especially considering the development stage of Donlin Gold and future needs as the project develops.
Our timing could not have been better. ESG principles help us formalize how we measure and report to the broader market on the sustainability and societal impact of the Donlin Gold project
            f advance the Donlin Gold project toward a construction/production decision
(45% weighting)
f maintain/increase support for the Donlin Gold project among Native entities and other stakeholders (25%)
f promote a strong safety, sustainability, and environmental culture (15%)
f maintain a favorable reputation of the company and its projects among shareholders (10%)
f manage the company treasury effectively and efficiently and streamline the corporate structure (5%)
 Specific tactical goals were set under each of these categories. Based on the level of completion and weighting, the compensation committee recommends an overall company performance rating ranging from 0-150% (100% as target).
Both the committee and the board determined that, overall, the 2020 goals were achieved; the resulting rating was 109%.
and of NOVAGOLD. ESG practices have always been a fundamental part of our business, ever since the early days of exploration at the Donlin Gold project site some 25 years ago. But as a development- stage company, measuring what we do and reporting it publicly have not been systematically organized in all areas of the business. For example, while the project enjoys longstanding exemplary health and safety practices – with voluminous environmental data supporting air, waste, and water permits – we have not provided this information to the public annually. It is time for NOVAGOLD to transition to a formal reporting process for the Donlin Gold project, using ESG metrics, now that most permits are in hand and there is activity at the site.
We have a solid base upon which to build. Extensive external affairs engagement with Donlin Gold’s Native Corporation partners in the Y-K region has been effectively communicated over the last two decades. Governance changes to date have been driven by the company’s adoption of best practices, and are facilitated by our ongoing shareholder engagement and proxy outreach with input from shareholders. Not only has progress in these areas

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