By Hilary Mare
NAMIBIA will get N$63million of B2Gold’s 2018 total exploration budget of approximately N$650million, Confidente can reveal.
Essentially, exploration in 2018 will include 17 000 metres of diamond drilling and 4 000 metres of RAB drilling split between the Otjikoto project and the Ondundu joint venture.
The greater chunk of the exploration budget will be distributed to West Africa and Nicaragua, which will be the firm’s primary areas of focus in 2018.
“Looking forward, the company will remain focused on continuing its impressive operational and financial performance from existing mines and continue with aggressive exploration and development programs to unlock the potential of its existing portfolio of properties,” Clive Johnson, B2Gold President and Chief Executive Officer, said.
On the other hand, Otjikoto mine is budgeted to process a total of 3.3 million tons of ore at an average grade of 1.59 g/t and a process recovery of 98 percent, the mine said in a statement late last week.
The Otjikoto mine is expected to produce between 160 000 and 170 000 ounces of gold in 2018, primarily from the Otjikoto Pit, at cash operating costs of between US$480 and US$525 per ounce and all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of between US$700 and US$750 per ounce.
“The slight drop in grade versus 2017 is due to a negligible amount of Wolfshag ore being mined in 2018, as phase 2 of the Wolfshag Pit is being developed. Ore production is planned to resume from the Wolfshag Pit in 2019, which is expected to provide higher grade open-pit mill feed in the future,” Johnson highlighted.
Sustaining capital costs in 2018 at the Otjikoto mine are budgeted to total US$16.6 million. Non-sustaining capital costs are budgeted to total US$28.5 million, including US$26.6 million for Wolfshag pre-stripping and US$1.7 million to complete phase one of the solar power project, which is expected to decrease fuel oil consumption and power costs, starting in the second quarter of 2018.
In 2017, the mine recorded record annual consolidated gold production, for the ninth consecutive year, of 630 565 ounces of gold, (including 79 243 ounces of pre-commercial production from Fekola), exceeding the upper end of the revised guidance range (of 580 000 to 625 000 ounces) and surpassing the top end of the original guidance range (of 545 000 to 595 000 ounces).
B2Gold’s record performance in 2017 reflected the early start-up and strong ramp-up performance of the new Fekola mine and the continued, very strong operational performances of both the Masbate mine in the Philippines and Otjikoto mine in Namibia. The company expects its full-year 2017 consolidated cash operating costs per ounce and AISC per ounce to be at, or below, the low end of their cost guidance ranges of between US$610 and US$650 per ounce and between US$940 and US$970 per ounce, respectively. B2Gold will release its 2017 year-end consolidated financial statements before the North American markets open on 15 March.
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