Otjikoto targets 185 000 ounces this year

• By Hilary Mare

B2GOLD’S Otjikoto mine is expected to produce between 175 000 and 185 000 ounces of gold in 2022 after an impressive performance in the just released first quarter production results.

The mine during the first quarter of 2022, produced 35 061 ounces of gold, five percent (1 803 ounces) above budget, with processed tonnes, grade and recoveries all slightly better than budget.

For the first half of 2022, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be between 65 000 and 70 000 ounces, which is expected to increase significantly to between 110 000 – 115 000 ounces during the second half of 2022.

“As a result of the timing of higher-grade ore mining, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be significantly weighted to the second half of 2022 when mining is scheduled to reach the higher-grade portions of Phase 3 of the Otjikoto Pit and ore production ramps up at the Wolfshag underground mine.

“As expected, compared to the first quarter of 2021, gold production was significantly higher by 52 percent (12 019 ounces), as processed ore in the first quarter of 2021 was primarily sourced from existing stockpiles while significant waste stripping operations continued at both the Wolfshag and Otjikoto pits,” the mine said in a statement last week.

For the first quarter of 2022, mill feed grade was 1.31 g/t compared to budget of 1.26 g/t and 0.82 g/t in the first quarter of 2021; mill throughput was 0.85 million tonnes compared to budget of 0.84 million tonnes and 0.89 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2021; and gold recovery averaged 98.5 percent compared to budget of 98.0 percent and 97.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

“Development of the Wolfshag underground mine continues to progress with ore production expected to commence in the first half of 2022. The initial underground Mineral Reserve estimate for the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag deposit includes 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 g/t gold,” further stated the mine.

Based mainly on the weighting of the planned production and timing of pre-stripping, Otjikoto’s cash operating costs are expected to be between US$960 – US$1,000 per ounce in the first half of 2022, before significantly improving to between US$620 – US$660 per ounce during the second half of 2022.

In addition, Otjikoto’s AISC are expected to be between US$1,460 – US$1,500 per ounce in the first half of 2022, before significantly improving to between US$930 – US$970 per ounce during the second half of 2022.

“The company’s ongoing strategy is to continue to maximise profitable production from its mines, further advance the Anaconda and Gramalote development projects, advance the company’s numerous brownfield and greenfield exploration projects, evaluate new exploration, development and production opportunities and continue to pay an industry leading dividend yield,” added the mine.

The Otjikoto mine was recognised by the Namibian Revenue Agency as the highest revenue contributor among ‘Overall Top Contributors’ in 2021.