By Hilary Mare
THE Otjikoto Mine produced a quarterly record 47 564 ounces of gold in the third quarter of 2016, 10 percent (or 4 191 ounces) above budget and 24 percent (or 9 312 ounces) higher than the third quarter of 2015.
Clive Johnson, B2 Gold president and Chief Executive Officer indicated that the increased production was mainly due to higher mill throughput.
“Mill throughput exceeded budget mainly due to the benefits associated with several debottlenecking initiatives undertaken during the year and was also higher than the prior year quarter due to the completion of Otjikoto’s mill expansion project earlier in September 2015 (which has increased plant capacity from 2.5 million tonnes per annum to 3.0 million tonnes per annum),” said Johnson.
Ore for the third quarter of 2016 was mined from the Otjikoto Phase 1 pit which was reopened after the new access ramp was completed in June.
“In the fourth quarter of 2016, the majority of ore produced will continue to be sourced from the Otjikoto Phase 1 pit, with minor ore tonnage from the Otjikoto Phase 2 pit and the new Wolfshag starter pit. Development of the Wolfshag starter pit is progressing on schedule, with the first ore expected before the end of 2016,” added Johnson.
During the first nine months of 2016, the Otjikoto Mine produced 119 439 ounces of gold, three percent (or 2 987 ounces) above budget and 12 percent higher compared to 106 349 ounces (including 18 815 ounces of pre-commercial production) produced in the same period last year. The Otjikoto Mine is on track to meet its annual production guidance of between 160 000 to 170 000 ounces of gold this year. Gold grade is expected to increase slightly during the fourth quarter of 2016, as the higher grade ore near the bottom of the Otjikoto Phase 1 pit is mined out and the first ore from the Wolfshag starter pit is produced. “Wolfshag will continue to produce higher than average grade ore for three to five years, depending on the transition to underground mining. Life-of-mine production plans for the Otjikoto project, incorporating the Wolfshag open pit and underground mines, have been completed for various options and will be further refined as the detailed geotechnical, hydrogeological, and design studies are completed in the fourth quarter of 2016 (open pit) and first-half of 2017 (underground),” the firm elaborated.
Holistically and globally, consolidated gold production in the third quarter of 2016 was another quarterly record of 146 686 ounces, six percent (or 7 988 ounces) above budget and 18 percent (or 22 315 ounces) higher than the same period in 2015.
“The excellent quarter highlights the continued very strong performance of the Masbate Mine and record quarterly production from the Otjikoto Mine,” added Johnson.
Consolidated gold production for the first nine months of 2016 was a year-to-date record 409 772 ounces, six percent (or 22 651 ounces) above budget and 13 percent (or 47 976 ounces, including 18 815 ounces of pre-commercial production from Otjikoto) higher than the same period in 2015.
B2Gold is projecting another record year for gold production in 2016. Following the uplift in guidance for Masbate, the company is now on track to meet a revised annual consolidated production guidance range of between 535 000 to 575 000 ounces of gold in 2016 (up from the original consolidated guidance range of between 510 000 to 550 000 ounces of gold). The company’s third quarter 2016 consolidated financial statements will be released on November 3.
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