Otjikoto Mine remains on track
B2Gold Corp recently announced that its open pit Otjikoto Gold Mine remained on time and within budget in a quarterly statement recently. The mine is expected to become operational in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Pre-development cost estimates of US$244 million and deferred stripping estimates of US$33 million remain in line with original pre-feasibility study estimates. In addition to these costs, B2Gold planned to lease finance a total of US$60 million for mobile mining equipment and power plant construction costs, the report stated.
B2Gold however has had to go back to the drawing board and will lease only the mobile mining fleet for a total of US$41 million as a result of Namibian regulations governing the securitisation of certain assets. The balance of the power plant costs has been funded from the Company’s existing cash flows and credit facilities. Leasing arrangements for the mining fleet were concluded in the fourth quarter of 2013 and are expected to be fully drawn and utilized by mid-2015 the report stated.
According to the report, the current mine plan is based on probable mineral reserves of 29.4 million tonnes at a grade of 1.42 g/t containing 1.341 million ounces of gold at a stripping ratio of 5.59:1 to be mined over an initial 12 year period. The current average annual production for the first five years is estimated to be approximately 141,000 ounces of gold per year at an average cash operating cost of US$524 per ounce and for the life of mine approximately 112,000 ounces of gold per year at an average cash operating cost of $689 per ounce.
B2Gold announced plans to expand the Otjikoto mine in 2015 based on the positive drill results obtained from the Wolfshag zone, increasing ore throughput from 2.5 million tonnes per year to 3 million tonnes. The increased throughput will be achieved through the installation of a pebble crusher, additional leach tanks and mining equipment at a total cost of approximately $15 million. Once the expansion is completed at the end of 2015, B2Gold expects that the annual gold production from the main Otjikoto pit would increase to approximately 170,000 ounces.
In addition, B2Gold announced an inferred resource estimate for the Wolfshag zone in January 2014.
The newly discovered Wolfshag zone is a 1,600 meter long zone that is as close as 250 metres east of the Otjikoto deposit. The estimated inferred mineral resource for the Wolfshag zone is 6.8 million tonnes grading 3.2 g/t gold containing 703,000 ounces of gold (on a 100% basis).
The inferred mineral resource is reported within a US$1,550 per ounce gold optimized Whittle pit shell above a cut-off grade of 0.5 g/t gold. The Wolfshag zone occurs directly adjacent to the east and north-east portion of the planned Otjikoto deposit open pit.
The initial high grade inferred resource estimate for the Wolfshag zone indicates the potential for future expansion of gold production and or increase in the mine life of the Otjikoto gold project the report stated.
Pre-production expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2013 totalled approximately US$167.3 million on a cash basis, including mobile equipment purchases of US$46.5 million, power plant costs of US$30.6 million and pre-stripping costs of US$6.7 million. The 2014 Otjikoto exploration program is budgeted at US$8 million. The exploration drilling program will focus primarily on infill drilling on the northern portion of the Wolfshag zone and will further test the extension of the Wolfshag zone to the south. B2Gold anticipates being in a position to upgrade the mineral resource classification to the indicated category by the end of 2014. The 2014 program will also include metallurgical and geotechnical test work for the Wolfshag zone, the quarterly report concluded.