NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of NovaGold Resources (NG) - Get Report were increasing in early-morning trading on Tuesday as JPMorgan raised its rating on the stock to "overweight" from "neutral."

The firm has an $8 price target on shares of the Vancouver-based mineral exploration company.

NovaGold should receive permits for its 50%-owned Donlin Gold project next year, according to JPMorgan.

"While the project will have to be re-engineered into a two-phase project to reduce upfront capex we feel this should be achievable within the permitted footprint while retaining the optionality of the larger resource," the firm wrote in an analyst note.

"We feel as partner Barrick's (ABX) production profile slips it will be motivated to advance the Donlin project," JPMorgan added.

NovaGold has lagged the HUI gold index this year as operating miners' margins have improved amid stronger gold prices.

"Now that larger miners have been strengthened we feel they must now focus on finding and developing new mines and this will put the spotlight on NG leading to outperformance," JPMorgan said.

For December delivery, gold was down 0.98% to $1,331 per ounce on the COMEX this morning.

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