B2Gold Corp., is pleased to announce that the first gold pour at the Fekola Gold Mine occurred on October 7, 2017, approximately three months ahead of schedule. Commissioning of the mill is ongoing and commercial production is expected by the end of 2017.
In the fourth quarter of 2017 the Company is projecting gold production from Fekola of between 50,000 and 55,000 ounces. 2018 is scheduled to be the first full year of gold production, yielding 400,000 to 410,000 ounces for the year. Based on current assumptions this represents an increase in annual gold production of over 70% for B2Gold in 2018.
B2Gold previously announced on September 25, 2017 that construction of the mill at Fekola was completed and the Company had commenced running ore through the system three months ahead of the original schedule and on budget. Additionally, the Company announced a new Life of Mine (“LoM”) plan showing increased production and lower operating and all in sustaining costs (“AISC”) compared with the original (4 Million tonnes per Annum (“MTPA”)) Optimized Feasibility Study for Fekola’s 5 MTPA mill (see press release dated 09/25/2017).
Based on the new LoM plan the Fekola Mine is projected to produce approximately 400,000 ounces of gold annually for the first three years at operating cash costs of $357 per ounce and all in sustaining costs of $604 per ounce. For the first seven years Fekola is projected to produce approximately 374,000 ounces of gold annually with operating cash costs of $391 per ounce and AISC of $643 per ounce. Over the initial ten-year LoM Fekola is projected to produce an average of 345,000 ounces per annum at operating cash costs of $428 per ounce and AISC of $664 per ounce.
Ongoing Fekola Exploration (see press release dated 09/25/2017)
Based on exploration to date, B2Gold’s exploration team believes there is significant potential to increase the mine life of Fekola through further exploration drilling. The $15 million 2017 exploration drill program is ongoing at the Fekola property and regional area. The drilling is focused on testing the potential extension of Fekola to the north, the mineralization below the Kiwi zone and the mineralized bedrock zones beneath the Anaconda saprolite resource.
Infill drilling continues to focus on the resources outlined immediately below the Fekola reserve boundary, immediately to the north of the boundary and the near surface portion of the Kiwi zone. The resources identified to date could add up to 900,000 ounces to reserves with further infill drilling. Exploration and infill drilling results will be released in November 2017.
Tom Garagan, Senior Vice President of Exploration for B2Gold, a qualified person under NI 43-101, has approved the exploration information contained in this news release.
Peter D. Montano, P.E., the Project Director of B2Gold, a qualified person under NI 43-101, has approved the scientific and technical information contained in this news release.