Modern Mining

Canada’s B2Gold Corp reports that its new Fekola gold mine in Mali achieved commercial production on 30 November, one month ahead of the revised schedule and four months ahead of the schedule announced in the Optimised Feasibility Study (OFS).



The processing plant at the Fekola gold mine. Recoveries are currently running ahead of budget (photo: B2Gold).

Ramp up to full-scale production at Fekola remains ahead of schedule with gold production well above budget in each of the ramp-up months, beating original recovery, grade and plant availability estimates in the OFS design. By 30 November this year, the mine had produced around 80 000 ounces of gold, approximately 158 % above budget (31 000 ounces). Gold production from the mine in 2017 is now forecast to be between 100 000 and 110 000 ounces, far surpassing the upper end of the original guidance of 45 000 to 55 000 ounces.

B2Gold has declared commercial production at Fekola based on an internal commercial production measure of 30 consecutive days of mill throughput at 65 % or greater of nameplate capacity (607 dry tonnes per hour). During the 30 consecutive-day commercial test, the mill achieved an average throughput of 626 dry tonnes per hour. This included an availability for the mill of 95 % (budget was 70 %) for the test period and a recovery that exceeded 95 % (budget was 91 %).

The Fekola mill started processing ore more than three months ahead of schedule on 25 September 2017, with the first pour achieved on 7 October. In October, the first full month of ramp-up and pre-commercial production, the Fekola mill treated 324 525 tonnes of ore (as against 225 804 tonnes budgeted) at an average grade of 3,40 g/t (2,33 g/t budgeted) with a gold recovery of 95,4 % (90,0 % budgeted), producing a total of 33 946 ounces of gold in the month (surpassing budget of 15 100 ounces).

Gold production at Fekola in November 2017 was approximately 40 000 ounces from 426 836 tonnes of ore (budgeted 316 000 tonnes) at an average grade of 3,05 g/t (2,33 g/t budgeted) with gold recoveries of 95,5 % (budget 91 %). The higher-than-budgeted grade is a result of the early start to mining in April 2017, allowing the site to stockpile ore and blend mill feed for optimal production.

Based on the life of mine (LoM) plan, in 2018 – the first full year of Fekola production – the company is projecting production of approximately 400 000 to 410 000 ounces of gold from Fekola with low projected cash operating costs and an AISC of approximatelyUS$354 per ounce and US$609 per ounce, respectively.

For its first three years of operation, Fekola is projected to produce approximately 400 000 ounces of gold annually at cash operating costs of US$357 per ounce and an AISC of US$604 per ounce.

B2Gold also reports that positive drill results from its US$15,4 million 2017 exploration programme in the Fekola area indicate that the main Fekola deposit, with additional drilling, could extend significantly to the north. In addition, drilling below the extensive saprolite resource at the Anaconda, Adder and Mamba zones has discovered three, well mineralised bedrock (sulphide) zones, indicating the potential for large, Fekola-style mineralised zones.

Drilling is ongoing to further test the Fekola North Extension zone, infill the Fekola resource and further test the new bedrock mineralisation beneath the Anaconda, Adder and Mamba saprolite resource. The company is planning additional, aggressive exploration drilling programmes on these targets in 2018.

The Fekola project is situated in south-western Mali, on the border between Mali and Senegal, about 210 km south of Kayes and 480 km (by road) from Bamako, Mali’s capital. The project entered B2Gold’s portfolio in 2014 as a result of its acquisition of Papillon Resources. 

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