B2Gold has formally commenced arbitration proceedings against the Republic of Mali with respect to the renewal of the Menankoto exploration permit which forms part of the Anaconda Area – located 20 km north of the Fekola Mine licence area.
Notwithstanding the commencement of arbitration proceedings, the Company is committed to continuing its ongoing discussions with the Malian Government to resolve the issue and remains optimistic that the renewal dispute can be resolved over the course of the next few months.
Since the Company commenced its investment in Mali, B2Gold has always enjoyed a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the Government of Mali. Most recently, B2Gold partnered with the Government of Mali to assist the people of Mali facing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its impact on the mining sector.
B2Gold continues to explore additional ways in which it might help the Government and local communities to deal with the impact of the pandemic. It believes that continued exploration success in Mali has the potential to deliver significant production upside in both the near term and over the longer term.
The operations at the Fekola Mine, which is situated on a separate mining licence 20 kilometres from the Menankoto Permit and is now projected to produce 560,000 to 570,000 ounces of gold in 2021, continue normally and have not been impacted by the dispute relating to the Menankoto Permit.
In addition, the Fekola Mine has not included the Mineral Resources from the Anaconda area in the current Fekola life of mine plan. The Bantako North permit area (wholly-owned and which permit was recently renewed for an additional 3-year term) contains a significant portion of the Mamba deposit saprolite material and remains open.
Preliminary planning by the Company has demonstrated that a pit situated on the Bantako North permit area could provide saprolite material for at least 1.5 to 2 years to feed the Fekola mill commencing in 2022 subject to obtaining all necessary permits and completion of a final mine plan. This additional feed to the Fekola mill would benefit all stakeholders, including the State of Mali, B2Gold’s 20% partner at the Fekola Mine.