B2Gold Output To Soar; Fekola Mine Hits Commercial Production
(Kitco News) - B2Gold Corp. (TSX: BTO; NYSE AMERICAN: BTG; NSX: B2G) has achieved commercial production ahead of schedule at its new Fekola Mine in Mali, which will enable the company to sharply increase output next year, the company said Monday.
Commercial output was hit on Nov. 30, one month ahead of a revised schedule. Further, output has topped expectations for each of the ramp-up months, B2Gold said. Through Nov. 30, the mine produced approximately 80,000 ounces of gold, compared to the budgeted 31,000.
Production for the part of the 2017 when the mine is producing is now forecast to be between 100,000 and 110,000 ounces of gold, exceeding the original guidance range of 45,000 to 55,000. Output is seen falling back to 25,000 ounces this month due to a planned shutdown to finalize operational changes, B2Gold said.
Company-wide 2017 production is now forecast between 580,000 and 625,000 ounces, B2Gold said. Then, in 2018 with a full year of operation for Fekola, B2Gold’s consolidated gold production is forecast to jump to between 925,000 and 975,000 ounces. Annual consolidated cash operating costs and all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for 2018 are forecast to decrease to $525 per ounce and $800 per ounce, respectively.
B2Gold said it declared commercial production at Fekola after 30 consecutive days of mill throughput at 65% or greater of nameplate capacity (607 dry tonnes per hour).
Based on the life-of-mine plan, during the first full year of Fekola production in 2018, the company is projecting 400,000 to 410,000 ounces of gold with operating costs and AISC of approximately $354 per ounce and $609 per ounce, respectively.
For the first three years, Fekola is projected to produce approximately 400,000 ounces of gold annually at cash operating costs of $357 per ounce and AISC of $604 per ounce. Over the initial 10 years, Fekola is projected to produce an average of 345,000 ounces at cash operating costs of $428 per ounce and AISC of $664 per ounce.
Meanwhile, B2Gold reports “positive drill results” from its $15.4 million 2017 exploration program in the Fekola area. This showed that the main Fekola deposit, with additional drilling, could extend significantly to the north, B2Gold said.