B2Gold Corp made the first gold pour at the Fekola gold mine on October 7, 2017, some three months ahead of schedule. Commissioning of the mill is ongoing and commercial production is expected by the end of 2017. In the fourth quarter of 2017 the company is projecting gold production from Fekola of between 50,000 and 55,000 oz. 2018 is scheduled to be the first full year of gold production, yielding 400,000 to 410,000 oz for the year. Based on current assumptions this represents an increase in annual gold production of over 70% for B2Gold in 2018.
B2Gold previously announced on September 25, 2017 that construction of the mill at Fekola was completed and that it had commenced running ore through the system three months ahead of the original schedule and on budget. Additionally, the company announced a new Life of Mine (LoM) plan showing increased production and lower operating and all in sustaining costs (AISC) compared with the original (4 Mt/y Optimized Feasibility Study for Fekola’s 5 Mt/y mill.
Based on the new LoM plan the Fekola is projected to produce approximately 400,000 oz/y of gold for the first three years at operating cash costs of $357/oz and AISC of $604/oz. For the first seven years Fekola is projected to produce approximately 374,000 oz/y of gold with operating cash costs of $391/oz and AISC of $643/oz. Over the initial ten-year LoM Fekola is projected to produce an average of 345,000 oz/y at operating cash costs of $428/oz and AISC of $664/oz.
Based on exploration to date, B2Gold’s exploration team believes there is significant potential to increase the mine life of Fekola through further exploration drilling. The $15 million 2017 exploration drill program is ongoing at the Fekola property and regional area. The drilling is focused on testing the potential extension of Fekola to the north, the mineralization below the Kiwi zone and the mineralized bedrock zones beneath the Anaconda saprolite resource.
Infill drilling continues to focus on the resources outlined immediately below the Fekola reserve boundary, immediately to the north of the boundary and the near surface portion of the Kiwi zone. The resources identified to date could add up to 900,000 oz to reserves with further infill drilling. Exploration and infill drilling results will be released in November 2017.
Founded in 2007, today, B2Gold has five operating mines and numerous exploration and development projects in various countries including Finland, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Namibia, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Based on current assumptions and updates to B2Gold’s current year guidance and long-term mine plans, the company is projecting consolidated gold production in 2017 of between 530,000 and 570,000 oz (including estimated pre-commercial production from Fekola); and in 2018, significantly increasing to between 925,000 and 975,000 oz, with the inclusion of the anticipated first full-year of commercial production at Fekola.