B2Gold up on higher-than-expected production

Shares in B2Gold Corp (TSX:BTO; NYSE: BTG) were up on Friday after the mid-tier miner reported better-than expected gold production for the third quarter of the year.

The Canadian company logged an output of 135,628 ounces of gold, which included 6,340 ounces of pre-commercial production from its newly built Fekola mine in Mali.

Consolidated output exceeded the original budget by 2% (or 2,254 ounces) and reforecast production by 15% (or 17,372 ounces), which the company attributed to "very strong" operational performances of both its Masbate mine in the Philippines and the Otjikoto operation in Namibia as well as the successful early start-up of the Fekola mine in September.

Consolidated output exceeded the original budget by 2% (or 2,254 ounces) and reforecast production by 15% (or 17,372 ounces)

The Vancouver-based miner said it expects production of between 50,000 and 55,000 ounces of gold from its new mine in south-western Mali to bring total production for 2017 to between 530,000 and 570,000 ounces of gold.

B2Gold, which poured its first gold at its Fekola mine earlier this week, expects to ramp up to commercial production at the operation by the end of the fourth quarter.

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, it noted.

It also said that its Masbate mine in the Philippines continued to exceed expectations, producing 46,557 ounces of gold in the third quarter of 2017, 20% (or 7,799 ounces) above both (original) budget and reforecast production, and comparable with the prior-year quarter.

Consolidated gold revenue in the third quarter was $154.1 million on sales of 121,597 ounces at an average price of $1,267 per ounce, compared to $193 million on sales of 145,029 ounces at an average price of $1,331 per ounce in the third quarter of 2016.

The 20%, or $38.9 million, decrease in revenue was mainly due to a 16% decrease in sales volume due to the timing of gold shipments and lower production, and a 5% decrease in the average realized gold price, B2Gold said.

Investors reacted positively to the news, boosting the stock price more than 2% in Toronto to Cdn$3.49 at 9:38AM ET. In New York, B2Gold's shares were up 1.81% to $2.81 by 9:54AM ET.