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.
To 30 November, 2017, the Fekola mine has produced approximately 80 000 oz of gold, approximately 158% above budget (31 000 oz).
Gold production from the Fekola mine in 2017 is now forecast to be between 100 000 and 110 000 oz, far surpassing the upper end of the original guidance of 45 000 to 55 000 oz.
Based on current assumptions and updates to B2Gold's current year guidance and long-term mine plans, the company is now projecting consolidated gold production in 2017 of between 580 000 and 625 000 oz.
In 2018, consolidated production is forecast to be between 925 000 and 975 000 oz.
This represents an increase in annual consolidated gold production of approximately 58% for B2Gold in 2018 versus 2017.
Annual consolidated cash operating costs and all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for 2018 are forecast to decrease in 2018 to approximately $525 per ounce and $800 per oz, respectively.
B2Gold has declared commercial production at the Fekola mine based on an internal commercial production measure of 30 consecutive days of mill throughput at 65% or greater of nameplate capacity (607 dry tons per hour).
During the 30 consecutive-day commercial test, the mill achieved an average throughput of 626 dry tons 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 at the Fekola mine achieved on 7 October, 2017.
In October, the first full month of ramp-up and pre-commercial production, the Fekola mill treated 324 525 tons of ore (budgeted — 225 804 tons) at an average grade of 3.40 g/t (budgeted — 2.33 g/t) with a gold recovery of 95.4% (budgeted — 90.0%), producing a total of 33 946 oz of gold in the month (surpassing budget of 15 100 oz).
Gold production at Fekola in November 2017 was approximately 40 000 oz from 426 836 tons of ore (budgeted 316 000 tons) 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 (April 2017), allowing the site to stockpile ore and blend mill feed for optimal production.
The estimated overall production from the Fekola mine for 2017 is now projected to be between 100 000 and 110 000 oz.
Commercial production in 2017 will include a projected 25 000 ounces in December 2017.
This number is lower than the production in October and November 2017, due to a planned shutdown to finalize operational changes.
The routine shutdown is expected to last six to seven days.
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 oz of gold from the Fekola mine with low projected cash operating costs and AISC of approximately $354 per oz and $609 per oz, respectively.
For the first three years, the Fekola mine is projected to produce approximately 400 000 oz of gold annually at cash operating costs of $357 per oz and AISC of $604 per oz.
For the first seven years, Fekola is projected to produce approximately 374,000 ounces of gold annually with cash operating costs of $391 per oz and AISC of $643 per oz.
Over the initial ten-year LoM, Fekola is projected to produce an average of 345 000 oz per annum at cash operating costs of $428 per oz and AISC of $664 per oz.
Feature image credit: B2Gold