NovaGold Resources announced Tuesday that the company and joint venture partner Barrick Gold have identified a preferred design for the Donlin Creek gold project now estimated to contain 31.7 million ounces of measured and indicated gold resources.

In a news release, NovaGold said The Donlin Creek project is expected to have a throughput design of approximately 50,000 tonnes per day, using onsite diesel and wind cogeneration for power.

Using this design, Donlin Creek would operate for 25 to 30 years and produce potentially 1 million to 1.5 million ounces of gold annually, Permitting would start in early 2009 with construction targeted for 2012, according to NovaGold.

The joint venture partners had originally considered building a powerline for the project. Detailed scoping studies indicated, however, that the increased construction time as well as permitting and business risks associated with the powerline outweighed the economic incentives of this option.

A feasibility study expected to be completed by approved by the first quarter of 2009 will provided updated economics and cost estimates for the project based on onsite diesel and wind cogeneration and the revised project design.

The Donlin Creek joint venture between Barrick and NovaGold was formed in November 2007, after a long and heated dispute between the two companies. Under lease from two Native Alaskan Corporations, Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, the 27,000-acre property is located in the Kuskokwim Gold Belt of southwest Alaska.