Otjikoto mine makes steady progress

By Hilary Mare

CLIVE Johnson, president and Chief Executive Officer of B2 Gold has said that development of the Wolfshag underground mine at Otjikoto continues to progress on schedule with the engineering of the underground mine continuing and an underground mining contractor appointed for the development of the underground workings up to the production stopes.

The initial underground mineral reserve estimate for the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag ore body includes 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 grams per tonne (g/t) gold.

“In the third quarter of 2020, the mining contractor was mobilised and underground development of the portal and primary ramp has now commenced. Stope ore production is expected to commence in early 2022, in-line with original estimates,” Johnson said.

On the other hand, the Otjikoto mine also had a solid third quarter of 2020, producing 42 591 ounces of gold, two percent (985 ounces) above budget, as processed tonnes and recoveries were both slightly better than budget.

Compared to the third quarter of 2019, gold production, as planned, was lower by 14 percent (6,820 ounces), due to fewer high-grade ore tonnes being mined from the Wolfshag Phase 2 Pit (than compared to the third quarter of 2019).

“Ore production from the Wolfshag Phase 2 Pit had resumed in the second half of 2019 following pre-stripping. The Otjikoto mine continued its remarkable safety performance, extending the number of days without an injury to 918 days as at September 30 2020,” added Johnson.

For the third quarter of 2020, mill feed grade was 1.53 g/t compared to budget of 1.54 g/t and 1.84 g/t in the third quarter of 2019; mill throughput was 0.88 million tonnes compared to budget of 0.86 million tonnes and 0.84 million tonnes in the third quarter of 2019; and gold recovery averaged 98.2 percent compared to budget of 98.0 percent and 98.8 percent in the third quarter of 2019.

For the first nine months of 2020, the Otjikoto mine produced 127 836 ounces of gold, above budget by three percent (3 690 ounces) and seven percent (8 292 ounces) higher than the first nine months of 2019.

“Exploration at Otjikoto continues to focus on drilling down plunge on the Wolfshag and Otjikoto deposits which remain open at depth as well as testing stratigraphy east of Wolfshag for new mineralised horizons,” Johnson further stated.

For full-year 2020, the Otjikoto mine is forecast to produce between 165 000 and 175 000 ounces of gold, from the Otjikoto and Wolfshag pits, at cash operating costs of between US$480 and US$520 per ounce.