1) Check out the November 24st press release that mentions when things were seen to be going wrong at Rock Creek. Here’s the relevant detail from the PR, and note how “mid October” exactly matches the time when Johnson started selling his shares.
The Rock Creek gold mine received regulatory authorizations and began commissioning start-up in September 2008. NovaGold was required to complete a number of additional environmental and operational tasks in the following weeks and months to ensure compliance with environmental requirements for the mine. Complications have arisen in meeting these regulatory requirements and the federal and state regulators have provided notice that certain conditions in the previously granted permits have not been fully met. Though the Company continues to work with state and federal regulators to resolve these matters, if such issues are not addressed to the satisfaction to the regulators, NovaGold’s subsidiary could face financial penalties or have additional mitigation or monitoring requirements imposed. The Rock Creek mine has experienced unanticipated mechanical problems including an electrical failure with the milling circuit and the Company has ongoing concerns with the efficiency of the process and recovery circuit. These issues have been compounded by the effects of extreme arctic weather conditions experienced in Nome, Alaska. In mid October, NovaGold foresaw cash flow in 2009 from the Rock Creek mine of over C$25 million at the then prevailing gold price and exchange rates. The Company now does not expect the Rock Creek mine to generate significant net cash flow over the next six months using a gold price of US$750 per ounce and current exchange rates. As a result of expected further capital requirements and increased operating costs together with the uncertainty regarding the operation of the project and the resulting cash flow, the Company has decided to suspend operations at the Rock Creek mine. The cash flow from Rock Creek which the Company had intended to use to fund its ongoing obligations will therefore not be available. The regulatory consequences of a suspension are uncertain, however existing environmental requirements will continue to be met during this suspension. As part of its requirements under Canadian GAAP, the Company will be reviewing impairment testing for the project.
2) Note that the payback for $20m bridge loan that NG obtained from Auramet on September 26th was wholly dependent on the revenues generated from Rock Creek. Or in other words, once Rock Creek hit serious problems Johnson knew NG couldn’t make that payment and started selling his shares.
3) Note how the October 20th sale was Johnson’s first in 2008. Why did it suddenly occur to him to start selling on this date, and sell a small lot of shares on every single trading day until the news of NG financial disaster was finally made public?
If this isn’t illegal insider selling I really don’t know what is. Those people who added to Novagold’s coffers on the October 1st warrants expiration now know where at least some of their money went.