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Sustainability

Partnerships

Barrick Gold Corporation, a strong and well-established senior gold producer, is an equal partner with NOVAGOLD in the Donlin Gold project. The development of Donlin Gold also requires enduring partnerships with our Native Corporation partners. Calista Corporation is one of 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations created by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and represents about 25,600 Alaska Native shareholders primarily of Yup’ik, Cup’ik, and Athabaskan descent. Calista is listed as one of the top 10 largest Alaska businesses by revenue and owns more than 35 subsidiary businesses, providing a variety of services including rural camp services; heavy-equipment sales, rentals, and service; rural and urban construction; environmental remediation; range reclamation; natural-resource development; and more. The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC) is an Alaska Native Corporation formed by the merger of 10 village corporations in the Kuskokwim region in 1977. TKC owns and operates several subsidiary companies with the goal of providing jobs, dividends, and other benefits to its Alaska Native Shareholders and their descendants.

Our relationships in Alaska and in the Y-K region have been shaped by working together to achieve project milestones that increase project value for all stakeholders. Calista and TKC have been directly involved in outreach about the Donlin Gold project for more than two decades, and they have provided a conduit for sharing local knowledge through the public comment periods in the permitting process. This is consistent with their stated goal to increase shareholder benefits and economic opportunities through innovation, growth, leadership, partnership, execution, and financial discipline. To achieve this, they have developed internal and external workforce programs, including internships, training, apprenticeships, scholarships, and mentorships. Along with Barrick, Calista and TKC are active participants in our annual strategic planning sessions for the Donlin Gold project as well as community engagement and state and federal government interactions and initiatives.

All shareholders of Calista (subsurface rights owner) and TKC (surface rights owner) will benefit from the mine as landowners. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) of 1971 resolved Alaska Native land claims, allotting 44 million acres for land use to Native Corporations. Land valuable for resource potential was selected by regional Corporations under ANCSA, and resource development companies were invited by the Native Corporations to explore the land. Benefits prescribed under ANCSA include revenue sharing under Sections 7(i) and 7(j) distributions that provide a formula to divide revenues earned from resource extraction between regional and village Native Corporations.

Donlin Gold prioritizes local hiring and invests in supporting communities throughout the region, benefiting residents directly or indirectly. One example is that 80 percent of Donlin Gold’s direct hires for the 2020 drill program were Alaska Natives from the Y-K region. In addition to already being one of Southwest Alaska’s largest employers, Donlin Gold also benefits the region’s communities indirectly, such as through donations to Y-K nonprofit organizations, schools, training programs, sporting events, scholarships, and more.

In 2020, Donlin Gold initiated six Friendship Agreements with villages in the Y-K region (Crooked Creek, Sleetmute, Akiak, Nikolai, and Napaskiak) that formalize current engagement. These Friendship Agreements build upon long-term relationships and address needs that are specific to each village, including water, sewer, and landfill projects; medical and other critical supplies to address hardships caused by COVID-19; an ice road that connects remote villages in the Y-K region during the winter months; salmon studies; and suicide prevention programs.

Figure 1 - Partnerships As part of Donlin Gold’s ongoing community engagement efforts, Friendship Agreements were approved and signed by six Y-K communities in 2020.

In addition, Donlin Gold’s life of mine agreements with both Calista and TKC call for them to have the opportunity to bid on all contracted work and receive bidders preference to encourage the use of local businesses. These agreements also require Donlin Gold to maximize the hire of shareholders of these Native Corporations. These provisions have directly led to many contracts being awarded to Calista and TKC-owned companies and employment for Y-K region residents at the project site.

Establishing collaborative working relationships with Y-K communities that function over the long term is essential to a solid development foundation based on respect for the values, the culture, and the language of the people of the Y-K region. Relationship-building is only possible when based on a sincere approach of openness, constructive dialogue, and mutual respect. As an example of this approach, Donlin Gold will continue to discuss options to mitigate or modify any project activities that could negatively impact stakeholders based on open and regular communication. Specifically, the natural gas pipeline that is envisioned to supply energy to the project site would reduce barging on the river, including barging of diesel fuel, and could provide a potential alternate energy source for the region. Following additional feedback, the pipeline was rerouted to avoid potential impacts on the Iditarod National Historic Trail. Ongoing feedback on project activities is coordinated through the DATROC, which is composed of senior leadership from Calista and TKC who advise the Donlin Gold Board on issues of specific interest to the communities.

During the early part of 2020, Donlin Gold was the lead sponsor of a project to construct and maintain the upper portions of an ice road on the Kuskokwim River from Crooked Creek to Sleetmute, and provided technical data to assist the roadbuilder. In a region that has few roads, this is a safe, critical pathway for supplies and access to medical care during the winter. This was the first time the ice road extended as far upriver as Sleetmute, greatly improving safety and access to nearby communities for residents in remote locations, creating economic opportunity for local trade and, pre-COVID-19, facilitating increased community cooperation for sports, social activities, and academics. At its completion in February 2020, the ice road’s length constituted a record for the Kuskokwim River at 355 miles long.

Applicable Corporate Policies can be found at https://www.novagold.com/company/governance/ including Environmental Policy; Code of Business Conduct and Ethics; Anti-Corruption, Anti-Bribery, Anti-Fraud; Health and Safety; Human Rights Policy; and Social License and Sustainable Development.

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