ANCHORAGE - It has been a long and troubled road, but the Rock Creek mine is expected to be in commercial production after the first of the year, according to Doug Nicholson, who managed the project for owner NovaGold Resources Inc.
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There are still legal clouds hanging over the project, however. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to issue a decision on an appeal by a group of Nome citizens challenging the mine's federal permit.
Still, NovaGold is proceeding with the project, located seven miles north of Nome. Ore is now being mined and stockpiled, and will be delivered to the processing mill in the second or third week of December, Nicholson told the Alaska Miners Association annual convention Nov. 9.
Nicholson has been named to head the new Donlin Creek joint venture company put together by NovaGold and Barrick Gold Inc., but NovaGold asked him to make the Rock Creek presentation at the miners' conference.
Testing of the ore crushing circuit in the Rock Creek mill was done in October, Nicholson said, and the plant is expected to begin operations in the third week of the month. Buildings at the mine are all enclosed and equipment is in place.
A second gold deposit 50 miles east of Nome, the Big Hurrah, is also being developed, he said. Gold ore mined at Big Hurrah will be trucked to the processing mill now being completed at the Rock Creek mine, Nicholson said.