Otjikoto expects high production until 2024

By Hilary Mare

B2 Gold Otjikoto mine’s high 2021 gold production level of between 190 000 and 200 000 ounces is expected to continue through to 2024, as production from Wolfshag underground is expected to commence in early 2022, the company has said.

This production from Wolfshag underground mine will supplement ore from the Otjikoto Pit as well as existing medium and low-grade stockpiles for approximately three years based on current estimates, the company added in a statement published last week.

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“The Wolfshag ore zone is narrow and high grade, with pit and phase strip ratios that result in a highly variable gold production profile. Approximately 70 percent of the gold produced 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.

“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. For the first half of 2021, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be between 45 000 – 50 000 ounces, which is expected to increase significantly to between 145 000 – 150 000 ounces during the second half of 2021,” Clive Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the mining company said.

The Otjikoto Mine 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).

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

The mine also currently 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.

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In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Otjikoto Mine produced 40 205 ounces of gold (fourth quarter of 2019; 58 422 ounces).

Overall, B2Gold had another remarkable year of strong growth in 2020, marking the twelfth consecutive year of record annual gold production. The company’s total gold production for 2020 was an annual record of 1 040 737 ounces, and consolidated gold production from the company’s three operating mines was an annual record of 995 258 ounces of gold.

“Following a very successful year for exploration in 2020, B2Gold is planning a year of aggressive exploration in 2021 with a budget of approximately US$66 million. Exploration will focus predominantly in Mali, other operating mine sites in Namibia and the Philippines and grassroots exploration programmes around the world.

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Many years of target generation and pursuing opportunities in prospective gold regions have culminated in the company allocating a record US$25 million in 2021 to high quality targets for its grassroots exploration programmes, including a number of new regions,” Johnson said.