By Business Reporter
THE Otjikoto mine, owned by B2Gold, has produced 42 774 ounces of gold in the first three months of the year (Q1), which is 20 percent or 7 082 ounces above the projected figure.
The mine’s 2017 Q1 output is also 20 percent or 7071 ounces more than over the same period last year.
Notably, the average grade processed in the 2017 quarter was 1.62 g/t (grams per ton), compared to the budgeted 1.39 g/t, and the 1.37 g/t recorded in the first quarter of 2016.
B2Gold president and Chief Executive Officer, Clive Johnson, said during a presentation last week that the production output increases were mainly due to better-than-expected grade and ore tonnage from the new Wolfshag Phase 1 Pit, and increased high grade ore tonnage from the bottom of the Otjikoto Phase 1 Pit, accompanied by smaller gains from improved plant performance.
“To date, there has been a positive reconciliation, in terms of both grade and ore tonnage from the oxide portion of the Wolfshag Phase 1 Pit, versus the resource model. As a result, processed ore from Wolfshag was approximately 230 000 tons at a grade of 1.90 g/t, versus a budget of 84 000 tons at a grade of 1.41 g/t.
“In addition, high grade ore from the bottom of the Otjikoto Phase 1 Pit (carried over from the fourth quarter of 2016, and into the first quarter of 2017, both from stockpiles and pit production), also exceeded expectations,” Johnson said.
According to the results, processed high grade ore from the Otjikoto Phase 1 Pit was approximately 380 000 tonnes, at a grade of 1.90 g/t, versus a budget of 355 000 tons, at a grade of 1.70 g/t.
The Otjikoto Phase 1 Pit was completed by mid-January. Mill throughput for the quarter was 832 805 tons, compared to a budget of 814 680 tons, and 822 602 tons in the first quarter of 2016.
Mill recoveries remained high, and averaged 98.6 percent, exceeding the budget of 98 percent, and 98.5 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
“Life-of-mine production plans for the Otjikoto mine, incorporating preliminary projections for 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, which are expected at the end of the third quarter of 2017. Ongoing studies are leading the company to re-evaluate the open pit and underground interface,” Johnson further stated.
For full-year 2017, the Otjikoto mine is forecast to produce between 165 000 and 175 000 ounces of gold, at cash operating costs of between US$510 and US$550 per ounce. Forecast gold production at Otjikoto is expected to be weighted towards the second-half of the year, as the Wolfshag Phase 1 and Otjikoto Phase 2 pits reach higher grade and lower strip ratio benches.
Otj i koto’s All-In Sustaining Cost (AISC) forecast for 2017 is expected to be between US$855 and US$885 per ounce, reflecting higher projected strip ratios at the new Otjikoto Phase 2 and Wolfshag Phase 1 pits. The average strip ratios at Otjikoto are expected to be lower in 2018 and 2019.
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