B2Gold has completed construction of the Fekola mill and commenced ore processing, more than three months ahead of schedule and on budget.
Gold is now in the circuit and the first gold pour is expected 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.
Fekola LoM plan highlights
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 and further exploration success, 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.
B2Gold is looking for 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 will be announcing results from the 2017 drilling program in November 2017.