B2 Gold looks to Wolfshag for most output
By Hilary Mare
APPROXIMATELY 70 percent of the gold produced at B2 Gold’s Otjikoto mine in 2021 is expected to be mined from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit, with material ore production starting early in the third quarter of 2021 following the waste stripping campaign, Clive Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the mine has said.
As a result of the timing of this high-grade ore mining, Otjikoto’s production is expected to be significantly weighted to the second half of 2021. In essence, for the first half of 2021, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be between 45 000 and 50 000 ounces, before increasing significantly to between 145 000 and 150 000 ounces during the second half.
Releasing financial results for the first quarter of 2021, Johnson noted that development of the Wolfshag underground mine continues to progress on schedule.
“In the fourth quarter of 2020, development of the portal was completed, and development of the primary underground ramp commenced. Development continued during the first quarter of 2021, and stope ore production is expected to commence in early 2022, in-line with original estimates. The initial underground Mineral Reserve estimate for the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag ore body included 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 g/t gold,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Otjikoto Mine in Namibia performed well during the first quarter of 2021, producing 23 042 ounces of gold, 11 percent (2 351 ounces) above budget, with processed tonnes, grade and recoveries all slightly better than budget.
As expected, compared to the first quarter of 2020, gold production was significantly lower by 45 percent (18 707 ounces), as processed ore is primarily being sourced from existing stockpiles while significant waste stripping operations continue at both the Wolfshag and Otjikoto pits.
“Mined ore tonnage and grade continue to reconcile well with Otjikoto’s resource model, and ore production is forecast to significantly increase in the second half of 2021 when mining reaches the higher-grade zone at the base of the Wolfshag Pit,” further said Johnson.
Otjikoto’s higher 2021 gold production level of between 190 000 and 200 000 ounces is expected to continue through to 2024, with production from Wolfshag underground expected to commence in early 2022 to supplement ore from the Otjikoto Pit as well as existing medium and low-grade stockpiles for approximately three years based on current estimates.
On the other hand, the Otjikoto Mine has a remarkable safety record, with no Lost Time Injury (LTI) for the period from March 27 2018 until October 29 2020, when an LTI for a fractured ankle occurred. As at March 31 2021, the Otjikoto Mine had achieved 154 days without an LTI.