B2Gold to kick commercial production at Mali mine earlier than planned

The Fekola mine will add up to 410,000 ounces of gold to the company's annual output.

Mid-tier Canadian miner B2Gold (TSX, NYSE:BTO) will kick off commercial production at its Fekola mine, in south-western Mali, about four months ahead of the original schedule, the company said.

Delivering results for the three and nine months to September 30, the company announced it expected to achieve commercial production at Fekola by the end of November.

The Vancouver-based company, which poured its first gold at the Mali mine last month, said consolidated gold production from July to end of September hit 135,628 ounces, including 6,340 ounces of pre-commercial gold in-circuit production from Fekola.)

B2Gold believes the Fekola property, near Mali’s border with Senegal, and about 520 km from the country’s capital, Bamako, has the potential to host further high-class gold deposits.

During October, the first full month of ramp up and pre-commercial production, the Fekola mill treated 324,525 t of ore (budgeted – 225,804 t) at an average grade of 3.40 g/t (budgeted – 2.33 g/t) with a gold recovery of 95.4% (budgeted – 90.0%), producing a total of 33,946 oz. of gold in the month (budget of 15,100 oz.) surpassing all but one of its budgeted figures.

It also said its Otjikoto mine, located in the north-central part of Namibia, achieved record quarterly production of 55,151 ounces of gold.

B2Gold already operates four gold mines — two in Nicaragua, one in the Philippines, and another in Namibia. Having a fifth operating mine next year would boost B2Gold’s annual production more than 70% to between 925,000 and 975,000 ounces of gold.

Fekola alone is expected to yield between 400,000 to 410,000 ounces of low-cost gold production for the first three years of operation at cash operating costs of $357 per ounce and AISC of $604 an ounce.

B2Gold believes the Fekola property, near Mali’s border with Senegal, and about 520 km from the country’s capital, Bamako, has the potential to host additional Fekola-style gold deposits, and surface exploration, regional drilling and geophysics have identified a number of targets.

Results from the aggressive 2017 exploration drilling programs at Fekola will be released in due course, the miner said.