B2Gold’s plan to expand its Fekola gold mine, in Mali, by 1.5 Mt/y could see an up to $56 million investment in additional excavators, trucks, drills, support equipment and wheel loaders, according to the latest project economic study.
The expansion study preliminary economic analysis showed the company could increase throughput to 7.5 Mt/y, from the current 6 Mt/y base rate, by injecting just under $50 million over a period of some 18 months for processing expansion and upgrades.
As currently envisioned, the processing upgrade would focus on increased ball mill power, with upgrades to other components including a new cyclone classification system, pebble crushers, and additional leach capacity to support the higher throughput and increase operability.
“Critical path items include ball mill motors and the lime slaker, both of which will be commissioned in Q3 (September quarter) 2020,” B2Gold said.
“In parallel with the expansion, B2Gold is studying the addition of a solar power plant, which would reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The current on-site power plant has sufficient capacity to support the expanded processing throughput, with or without the solar plant.”
On top of this, the company would need to invest in its mining fleet.
The current mining fleet consists of four Caterpillar 6020B excavators with haul trucks, drills, and support equipment to match, and mines an average of 36 Mt/y. The Whittle study results currently indicate mining production rates ranging from 54 Mt/y to 76 Mt/y are optimal to support the expanded processing rates over the life of mine and optimise head grade during the period 2020-2024.
B2Gold said: “Increased production will be achieved with the addition of two to four excavators with corresponding trucks, drills, and support equipment. Large front-end loaders would also be included to maintain fleet flexibility.
“Mine fleet expansion timing and scale will be optimised during Q2 (June quarter) 2019 and will generally be equipment loan/lease financed over a five-year period. The study has included $28 million for expansion to 54 Mt/y and an additional $28 million (for a total of $56 million) to go to 76 Mt/y.
“In parallel with the Whittle study, B2Gold is reviewing in-pit crushing and conveying as a means to reduce operating costs and potentially implement tailings and waste co-disposal at the Fekola mine.”
The expansion study estimated optimised that the life of mine could extend into 2030, including significant estimated increases in average annual gold production to over 550,000 oz/y during the five-year period 2020-2024 and over 400,000 oz/y over the life of mine (2019-2030).
This would see an increase in project net present value of approximately $500 million versus the comparable amounts in the company’s latest AIF mineral reserve life of mine model based on a $1,300/oz gold price and a discount rate of 5%.