Modern Mining

B2Gold Corp, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and listed on the TSX and NYSE American, reports it has completed construction of the Fekola mill and commenced ore processing, more than three months ahead of schedule and on budget, at the Fekola mine in Mali.

The company expects to achieve commercial production and produce between 50 000 to 55 000 ounces of gold by the end of 2017. In addition, B2Gold has announced it has completed a new Life of Mine (LoM) plan for the Fekola deposit that projects higher mill throughput and annual gold production, and lower projected operating costs per ounce and all-in sustaining costs (AISC) per ounce of gold than the original (4 Mt/a) plan in the Optimised Feasibility Study (OFS).

The SAG mill at Fekola. Mill construction was completed more than three months ahead of schedule (photo: B2Gold).

The new LoM plan was completed based on the expanded 5 Mt/a mill throughput and takes into account an early start-up, increased processing throughput, and improved open-pit design and scheduling versus the OFS.

The Fekola project has been built using the same construction team that had previously completed four gold mines, on schedule and on budget, for B2Gold's predecessor company (Bema Gold Corporation) and B2Gold.

Prior to construction, the company recognised the exploration potential beyond the initial reserves and decided to build the Fekola mill with a 25 % design capacity to allow for future expansion of the mill throughput from 4 Mt/a to 5 Mt/a for an additional expenditure of approximately US$18 million.

Due to the success of the Fekola mine construction and further exploration success at Fekola, B2Gold decided to expedite the expansion and complete it during the construction phase rather than post construction.

The Fekola project remains on budget. Total cumulative forecast construction costs for the project (from inception to completion) include pre-construction sunk costs of approximately US$41 million, feasibility study construction costs of US$462 million and US$18 million additional costs for the mill expansion to 5 Mt/a. Additionally, another US$20 million is expected to be spent on relocating the village of Fadougou.

In 2018, the Fekola mine is now projected to produce between 400 000 and 410 000 ounces of gold at an operating cost of approximately US$354 and AISC of US$609 per ounce of gold. Gold production over the 10-year Life of Mine life is expected to average 345 000 ounces a year (with 400 000 ounces a year being produced in years 1 to 3).

B2Gold's exploration team believes the expansive Fekola property has the potential to host additional large Fekola-style gold deposits. Surface exploration, regional drilling and geophysics to date have identified numerous targets.

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