B2 Gold in 12th record production year

By Hilary Mare

DESPITE the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, B2Gold has had another remarkable year of strong growth in 2020, a twelfth consecutive year of record annual gold production.

President and chief executive officer of the gold miner, Clive Johnson highlights that the company’s total gold production for 2020 was an annual record of 1 040 737 ounces, at the upper end of the guidance range (of between 1 000 000 – 1 055 000 ounces).

Johnson noted that the company’s Otjikoto gold mine which is situated in Namibia also had another solid year in 2020, producing 168 041 ounces of gold, near the midpoint of its guidance range (of between 165 000 – 175 000 ounces).

“Compared to 2019, gold production, as planned, was lower by six percent (9 925 ounces) in 2020, as the prior year had benefited from more high-grade ore tonnes being mined from Phase 2 of the Wolfshag Pit.

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The Otjikoto Mine has a remarkable safety record, with no LTI’s from March 27 2018 until October 29 2020, when an LTI for a fractured ankle occurred. As at December 31 2020, the Otjikoto Mine had achieved 63 days without an LTI. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Otjikoto Mine produced 40 205 ounces of gold (fourth quarter of 2019 – 58 422 ounces),” Johnson said adding that at Otjikoto, development of the Wolfshag underground mine continues to progress well and on schedule.

“In the third quarter of 2020, the mining contractor was mobilised, and development of the portal and primary underground ramp has now commenced.

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Stope ore production is expected to commence in early 2022, in-line with original estimates,” he further stated.

In connection with advancing the company’s pipeline of development projects, Johnson says the company expects to announce the results of the feasibility study for the Gramalote Project in Colombia in April 2021, with a construction decision expected to be made shortly thereafter.

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“Based on the positive results from Gramalote’s Updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (released on January 21, 2020), B2Gold believes that the Gramalote Project has the potential to become a large, low-cost open-pit gold mine (subject to the results of a final feasibility study).

“The company is currently updating the existing feasibility study for the Kiaka Project in Burkina Faso, due to the potential for improved economics resulting from lower fuel prices, alternative power options and a higher gold price. The company expects to have completed an updated economic assessment of the Kiaka Project by the end of the first quarter of 2021 for internal review, followed by the updated feasibility study by mid-year 2021,” he explained before noting that following a successful year for exploration in 2020, B2Gold is planning a year of aggressive exploration in 2021 with a budget of approximately US$66 million (excluding Gramalote).

“Exploration will focus predominantly in Mali, other operating mine sites in Namibia and the Philippines, including a record US$25 million allocated to the company’s ongoing grassroots exploration programmes around the world,” said Johnson.