Gold is now in the circuit and the first gold pour is anticipated by mid-October 2017 and B2Gold expects to achieve commercial production and produce between 50 000 to 55 000 oz of gold by the end of 2017.
In addition, B2Gold 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 oz and all-in sustaining costs (AISC) per oz of gold than the original (4 Mtpa) plan in the optimised feasibility study (OFS).
The new LoM plan was completed based on the expanded 5 Mtpa mill throughput and takes into account an early start-up, increased processing throughput, and improved open-pit design and scheduling versus the OFS.
New Fekola LoM plan highlights
- No material change to feasibility mineral Reserves with the new resource model, pit and phase designs, and production plan
- The contained mineral reserve remains 3.34 million oz contained in 43.8 million tons at an average grade of 2.37g/t
- No material change to mining production or fleet size
- Processing throughput increased to 5 Mtpa vs 4 Mtpa in the OFS
- Significant upside in mine life and oz produced exists within current resource, with further potential as adjacent and other targets are developed
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) and B2Gold.
Prior to construction, B2Gold 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 Mtpa to 5 Mtpa for an additional expenditure of approximately $18 million.
Due to the success of the Fekola mine construction (more than three months ahead of schedule and on budget) 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 $41 million, feasibility study construction costs of $462 million and $18 million additional costs for the mill expansion to 5 Mtpa.
Additionally, another $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 oz of gold at an operating cost of approximately $354 and AISC of $609 per oz of gold.
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.
B2Gold has drilled approximately 2 800 aircore, reverse circulation and diamond drill holes totalling 180 000 m.
Approximately 75% of the drilling has focused on exploration drilling with the remainder on in-fill drilling.
Based on the successful results to date, the Fekola mine and regional exploration budgets for 2017 have been increased by $3.8 million to $15.4 million.
The resource identified to date from drilling below and to the north of the Fekola reserve boundary combined with the near-pit portion of the Kiwi zone (to the north) could add 900 000 oz and is being further drilled to potentially move resources from the inferred category into the measured and indicated categories.
Drilling further to the north of the reserve pit boundary has identified additional gold mineralisation near surface and in some deeper holes.
This indicates the potential to increase the gold resources and ultimately expand the planned Fekola reserves further to the north.
Deeper below the Kiwi zone is the down-plunge extension of the main Fekola ore body.
Drilling in this zone has intercepted Fekola-type gold grades over large intervals.
If the on-going drilling between the near surface Kiwi zone and Fekola Deeps continues to encounter good grade gold mineralisation, there is the potential for the Fekola pit to ultimately become much larger to exploit both the Kiwi zone and a portion of Fekola Deeps by open pit.
The Fekola Deeps zone remains open further to the north further down dip and has the potential to be exploited by underground mining.
B2Gold anticipates another large exploration budget (approximately $15 million) for Fekola in 2018, for in-fill drilling, further exploration drilling at the Kiwi and Fekola Deeps zones and regional exploration.
B2Gold anticipates announcing results from the 2017 drilling program in November 2017.
Feature image credit: B2Gold