TORONTO, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Shares of Novagold (NG.TO) rose 13.4 percent on Wednesday morning after the mining exploration company said it is exploring a possible sale of its 50 percent stake in the big Galore Creek copper/gold project in northwestern British Columbia.
The Vancouver-based company also named Gregory Lang as its new chief executive. Lang, until recently the head of Barrick Gold's (ABX.TO) North American operations, will replace incumbent CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, who is leaving the company to head NovaCopper, a new entity to be formed after the spinout of Novagold's Ambler copper-zinc project in Alaska.
Earlier this year, Novagold completed a preliminary study on Galore Creek that disappointed some analysts and investors due to increased cost projections and a delayed timetable.
The $5.2 billion project, jointly owned by Novagold and Teck Resources TCKb.TO, could become one of the largest copper mines in North America once it goes into production. It is projected to produce more than 320 million pounds a year of copper, more than 200,000 ounces of gold, and more than 3 million ounces of silver over a 18-year mine life.
Novagold said its moves to sell its stake in Galore Creek and to spin out Ambler will allow the company to focus on developing its flagship Donlin Gold project in Alaska, which is a joint venture with Barrick Gold.
Shares of Novagold were up C$1.20 at C$10.17 in early trading on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Peter Galloway