VANCOUVER – Otjikoto Gold Mine, north of Otjiwarongo, achieved commercial production ahead of schedule on February 28, 2015, and the ramp up of production continues well ahead of budget, B2Gold Corp has said.
The open-pit Otjikoto Gold Mine poured first gold on December 11, 2014, one week ahead of schedule. In January 2015, the project continued its strong ramp up to commercial production ahead of schedule and produced 8 587 ounces against a budget of 8 267 ounces. Better than budgeted performance was attributed to additional mill availability (89.6 percent versus budget of 70 percent) and better than anticipated throughput (34 percent above budget). February 2015 also saw gold production ahead of budget (10 228 ounces produced versus 8 863 ounces budgeted).
According to the statement by B2Gold, this was a product of better grade than January at 1.57 grams per tonne (versus budget of 1.71g/oz) , better mill recoveries at 97.82 percent (versus budget of 96.17 percent), and better mill availability at 91.7 percent for the month (versus budget of 82 percent). Based on the performance of the mill, and the fact that the company met commercial production criteria of 30 consecutive days of mill throughput of 65 percent of faceplate capacity by February 28, 2015, the Otjikoto Gold Project is declaring commercial production as of that date. Operating cash costs for the month of January were US$612 per ounce versus a budget of US$705 per ounce.
For 2015, Otjikoto is expected to produce between 140 000 to 150 000 ounces of gold at a cash operating cost of approximately US$500 to US$525 per ounce and all in sustaining costs of approximately US$700 per ounce. The company expects annual gold production to increase to approximately 200 000 ounces in 2016 and 2017.
Expansion of the Otjikoto mill from 2.5 million tonnes per year to 3.0 million tonnes per year continues on schedule with the installation of the first additional leach tank to be completed during Q1 2015. Major additional work that must be completed includes installation of a second leach tank, construction of a pebble crusher and associated piping and pumping components. It is anticipated that this work will be completed by August 31, 2015. This will support additional throughput initially from the Otjikoto Mine and subsequently from the fully permitted Wolfshag deposit that is located immediately adjacent to the main, Otjikoto deposit. The project continued the excellent health and safety record with no lost time accidents for the months of January and February 2015.
The company thanked the B2Gold construction team for constructing the Otjikoto mine and mill facilities on budget and ahead of schedule. The high quality of construction has resulted in the rapid ramping up of production at Otjikoto. The construction team has started road and site construction preparation at the company’s next planned mine, the recently acquired Fekola Project in Mali. The company will release the results of the feasibility study at Fekola in June 2015. Based on current assumptions, Fekola mine has the potential to produce approximately 300 000 ounces of gold per year commencing in early 2018.
B2Gold is a rapidly growing Vancouver-based gold producer with four mines (two in Nicaragua, one in the Philippines and one in Namibia) and a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets in Mali, Nicaragua, Namibia, Philippines, Colombia and Burkina Faso. The company projects to produce approximately 540 000 ounces of gold in 2015 and ramping up to approximately 900 000 ounces annually by 2018 based on current assumptions.