Three Wyoming geologists recounted the discovery of a one of the largest gold deposits ever found in southwestern Alaska in the late 1980s following presentation of the Thayer Lindsley Award of Economic Geology for a major international discovery. Richard Garnett, a member of the discovery team, accepted the award for the group at the PDAC in Toronto Canada in 2009, nearly three decades after the discovery.
In the late 1980s, WestGold began exploration for commercial gold deposits in Alaska when they hired three geologists from Wyoming - Mark A. Bronston, Paul J. Graff and W. Dan Hausel. All three were building reputations in exploration when they, with four others, found the largest gold deposit in North America in the 20th century! A deposit that contains more gold than mined from the great Homestake Mine in its 123-year mining history.
Dr. Graff was already known for work on ancient Precambrian uranium and other metal deposits in the Sierra Madre Mountains, Dan Hausel would become the most productive geologist in the history of the Wyoming Geological Survey following hundreds of discoveries including a major gold district west of Casper, Wyoming that would literally change one's perspective of the mineral resources of the Cowboy state, and Mark Bronston ran much of the exploration operations for WestGold. Last reported, the 45 million ounces of gold had been identified at the future gold mine, which likely will increase as mining operation evolves. NovaGold recently reported the deposit contains 39 million ounces of drilled gold listed in the Indicated and Measured category along with an additional 6 million of Inferred ounces.
The three Wyoming geologists were awarded Economic Geology's most coveted award at the PDAC in Canada for discovery of the Donlin Creek gold deposit. NovaGold, which took over the project is currently filing for mine permits to develop what likely will be the largest gold mine in the world.
University of Wyoming alumnus Mark A. Bronston (BS, 1979) and Paul J. Graff (PhD, 1978), and Wyoming Geological Survey Economic Geologist W. Dan Hausel (University of Utah alumnus, BS, 1972; MS, 1974) discovered the Donlin Creek gold deposit in central Alaska in the late 1980’s working for WestGold, a subsidiary of Anglo-American and DeBeers. The deposit is worth more than $70 billion. Progress continues at the mine site in Alaska which is expected to develop into the largest gold mine in the world.