…as solar provides 13% of the electricity consumed onsite
By Business Reporter
B2 Gold’s Otjikoto mine has built on its strong first quarter performance with a similarly successful second quarter, producing 40,678 ounces of gold, approximately in-line with budget and comparable with the first quarter of 2017.
According to the mines second quarter results announced last week, the average grade processed in the quarter was 1.49 g/t, compared to budget of 1.56 g/t and 1.50 g/t in the second quarter of 2017.
Mill throughput for the quarter was 860,474 tonnes compared to budget of 822,740 tonnes and 867,170 tonnes in the second quarter of 2017 while mill recoveries remained high and averaged 98.7 percent, exceeding budget of 98.0 percent and 98.6 percent in the second quarter of 2017.
“Looking forward, the company will remain focused on continuing its impressive operational and financial performance from existing mines, paying down debt, pursuing expansion opportunities at existing operations and continuing with aggressive exploration and development programs to unlock the potential of its existing portfolio of properties,” Clive Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the mine said.
The mine also highlighted that the grand opening for Otjikoto’s new solar plant held on May 29, 2018 has led to the plant now providing approximately 13 percent of the electricity consumed onsite (a saving equivalent to the consumption of approximately 700,000 litres of fuel from the date the plant came online in the second quarter).
The opening followed B2Gold breaking ground on the construction of a 7 MW photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant at its Otjikoto mine, in 2017.
Prior to the inclusion of the solar plant in the mine’s energy portfolio, the Otjikoto mine obtained 100 percent of its energy requirements from 24 MW of installed generation capacity at the Otjikoto power plant, comprising of heavy fuel oil (HFO) diesel generators.
With a consistent demand of 12.5 MW all day, the plant consumed 21.7-million litres of HFO during 2017, costing about US$10.5 million.
At the opening of the plant, B2Gold Namibia projects and compliance manager, John Roos outlined the reasoning for the facility’s development, which included B2Gold’s commitment to environmental stewardship, its dependence on a steady supply of HFO, which also exposed it to increasing oil prices, and the company’s focus to remain a low-cost producer.
“Driven by these challenges, the B2Gold project team embarked on a detailed financial feasibility study early in 2016 to prove the financial viability of adding a 7 MW solar plant to Otjikoto’s energy portfolio. Based on the results of this study, the project was approved in October 2016, with an estimated project cost of US$8.5-million,” explained Roos.
The solar PV array comprises about 62 400 115W CAT thin-film solar panels manufactured by First Solar.
These panels are mounted on a PiA solar tracking system. Direct current power is converted to alternating current power through 240 Sunny tri-power three-phase SMA string inverters.
Energy generated by the solar plant is evacuated to the Otjikoto power plant by a 3.5 km powerline.
The CAT MMC, which is installed at the Otjikoto power plant, controls the flow of energy from the solar to the power plant.
The feasibility studies indicated expected savings of 20 percent of HFO consumption through the reduction of load to the power plant, as well as savings on maintenance costs on the power plant’s HFO engines.
B2Gold expects it will reduce energy costs by 14 percent for this year.
For the first-half of 2018, the Otjikoto Mine produced 80,177 ounces of gold, above budget by 3 percent (or 2,459 ounces) and 4 percent (or 3,760 ounces) lower than the first-half of 2017. In 2018, nearly all of the processed ore will be sourced from the Otjikoto Pit. Development of the second phase of the Wolfshag Pit continues, from which higher-grade ore production is expected in 2019.
For full-year 2018, the Otjikoto Mine is expected to produce between 160,000 and 170,000 ounces of gold, primarily from the Otjikoto Pit, at cash operating costs of between US$480 and US$525 per ounce and AISC of between US$700 and US$750 per ounce.
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