Otjikoto surpasses budgeted production targets

By Hilary Mare

B2GOLD’s Otjikoto mine has had a solid second quarter, producing 43 496 ounces of gold, three percent (1 342 ounces) above budget, as processed tonnes and recoveries were slightly better than budget, the gold mining firm has said.

Compared to the second quarter of 2019, gold production was significantly higher by 16 percent (6 075 ounces), due to higher grade ore from the Wolfshag Pit  where ore production from the pit 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 LTI to 826 days (well over two years) as at June 30 2020,” Clive Johnson, president and chief executive officer has said.

During the second quarter of 2020, the Otjikoto Mine processed 0.87 million tonnes (compared to budget of 0.85 million tonnes and 0.87 million tonnes in the second quarter of 2019) at an average grade of 1.58 grams per metric tonne (g/t) compared to budget of 1.58 g/t and 1.36 g/t in the second quarter of 2019 and average gold recoveries of 98.6 percent compared to budget of 98.0 percent and 98.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

For the first half of 2020, the Otjikoto mine produced 85 245 ounces of gold, above budget by three percent (2 705 ounces) and 22 percent (15 112 ounces) higher than the first half of 2019.

“In December 2019, the B2Gold Board approved the development of the Wolfshag underground mine. The initial underground mineral reserve estimate, in the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag orebody, was calculated to contain 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 g/t gold. During the first half of 2020, engineering of the underground mine continued and in the second quarter of 2020 an underground mining contractor bid process was held for the development of the underground workings up to the production stopes.

“In line with previously announced schedules, the development of the portal and primary ramp is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2020 and stope ore production is expected to commence in early 2022,” extended Johnson.

Based on current assumptions, for the 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.

As a whole, B2Gold has produced 239 574 ounces of gold in the second quarter, which is an increase of 15 percent over the same quarter of 2019 and also three percent more than its guidance.

The higher output was driven by the Fekola mine in Mali, which continued its strong operational performance with gold production of 29 percent higher than a year earlier.

Fekola’s significant gold production increase was mainly owing to the expansion of the mining fleet and the enhancement of the pit designs and mine plan for 2020, which have provided access to higher grade portions of the Fekola deposit earlier than anticipated in previous mine plans.

The Masbate mine in the Philippines, performed well through the second quarter, despite being limited by a reduced workforce as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, B2Gold said last week.