Canadian mid tier gold miner, B2Gold, has announced the first gold pour at its new Otjikoto open pit mine in Namibia ahead of the original schedule. Indeed the company says Otjikoto is only the African nation’s second gold mine and has been one of the fastest-moving mine construction projects there. The Otjikoto deposit was originally discovered by South African mining company Anglovaal, and was acquired by B2Gold from Auryx Gold, with which the company merged in December 2011. Since then progress has been rapid.
The Otjikoto Mining Licence was received in December 2012, and bush-clearing started in January 2013. With the ground-breaking ceremony held on 26th April, 2013, construction of the Otjikoto Gold Mine was officially underway. Since that time the team has placed over 1.3 million m3 of earth fill, over 20,000 m3 of concrete, and has worked over 3 million man-hours. B2Gold thus now has a world-class gold mine and processing facility in Namibia.
The Otjikoto gold project is located 300 kilometres north of Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek between the towns of Otjiwarongo and Otavi. The project benefits significantly from Namibia’s well established infrastructure with paved highways, a railway, power grids, and process water all close by. Namibia is also reckoned to be one of Africa’s most politically and socially stable jurisdictions.
In the first five years of its initially planned twelve year mine life, the Otjikoto Mine is expected to produce approximately 141,000 ounces of gold per year at an average cash operating cost of $524 per ounce. For 2015 the anticipated figures are for the new mine to produce between 140,000 to 150,000 ounces of gold at a cash operating cost of approximately US$500 per ounce and all in sustaining costs of approximately $700 per ounce
Pre-development cost estimates of $244 million and deferred stripping estimates of $33 million remain in line with original pre-feasibility study estimates.
In November last year the company announced additional positive drilling results from its exploration program at the Wolfshag zone, adjacent to the planned Otjikoto pit. The company says that these positive results further indicate the potential to outline a higher grade resource that could lead to additional future expansion of production and an increase in the mine life.
Once the planned mill expansion is completed in the third quarter of 2015, B2Gold expects annual gold production at Otjikoto to increase to approximately 200,000 ounces in 2016 and 2017. Gold production would also be enhanced by the development of the Wolfshag zone should this go ahead as indicated. An updated indicated resource study is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2015 along with an updated mine plan by the end of 2015 which will evaluate open pit and underground mining at Wolfshag.
B2Gold is a Vancouver, Canada, based gold miner, now with four operating mines (two in Nicaragua – La Libertad and Limon – and one in the Philippines – Masbate – as well as the new Otjikoto mine) and a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets in Nicaragua, Colombia, Namibia, Burkina Faso and Mali. Its projected gold output for the current year is 380,000 ounces, rising to 540,000 ounces in 2015 as Otjikoto builds up to full production. Assuming its next mine comes on stream as planned B2Gold’s output is projected to reach between 900,000 and 1 million ounces of gold by end-2017.
This next new gold mining project is at Fekola in Mali, acquired through the takeover of Papillon Resources completed 2 months ago. Under current plans Fekola would be B2Gold’s largest mine producing over 300,000 ounces a year
B2Gold has been a great success story in the gold space having grown rapidly through exploration/development and acquisitions. It was founded only in 2007 by the former executive and management team of Bema Gold Corporation. Bema itself had grown from a junior explorer to an international gold producer that was acquired by Kinross Gold Corporation through a Cdn$3.5 billion transaction in February 2007.