Wolfshag gold enters market before year end
The Wolfshag ore zone, a significant discovery made by the B2Gold exploration team after the acquisition of Auryx Gold, is expected to increase production in 2017 and beyond according to B2Gold Namibia’s Managing Director, Mark Dawe.
In response to questions posed by the Economist, Dawe recently said the high-grade Wolfshag open pit is scheduled to enter production towards the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.
As the deposit extends at depth, it is likely that open pit mining will be replaced by underground mining methods after depletion of the open pit reserves.
Dawe said that the exploration at Wolfshag is ongoing, with the object of increasing the confidence levels of the resource definition to the extent that underground mine planning is able to ensue.
According to the MD, a significant amount of technical work is currently being conducted on all aspects of the Wolfshag open pit and underground projects.
“Open pit mining of the Wolfshag deposit has already begun with the first ore expected in the first quarter of 2017. Following the promising results of an internal scoping study, a detailed engineering study of Wolfshag underground mining will commence in the third quarter of 2016 with results to be delivered in 2017,” he said.
Despite progress on the project, Dawe said the challenges faced relate to the structural geology, which could only be well understood once mining had progressed to below the unconsolidated zone in the Otjikoto open pit. Otjikoto is B2Gold’s first gold mine, which only came into full production during last year. Its excavation has revealed much information about the rock morphology in that area which assisted the exploration teams to define the gold deposits in the Wolfshag zone.
According to Dawe, gold production at Otjikoto was largely unaffected despite the previously reported pit slope failure on the Phase 1 pit access ramp. Otjikoto mine is on target to meet its governance production of between 160,000 and 170,000 ounces for 2016.
“Adversely dipping rock fabric was the reason for the pit slope failure, resulting in the loss of the main access ramp in April 2016. Despite the failure, the Otjikoto mine produced 36,172 ounces of gold in the second quarter of 2016, comparable to budget (of 37,426 ounces) and 36,963 ounces produced in the second quarter of 2015,” he explained.
Meanwhile, following the slope failure, he said a recovery plan to regain access to the Phase 1 pit was developed, which called for a temporary new access ramp which was established by mid-June. This ramp is to be utilized until the Phase 1 pit becomes depleted, which is expected in November 2016.
“The new ramp was successfully constructed and mining of the Phase 1 pit resumed in mid-June. During the construction of the new ramp, mill feed had been mainly sourced from the medium-grade ore stockpile, and supplemented with high-grade ore extracted from the Phase 2 pit (as part of the Phase 2 pre-stripping activities),” he said.