The company said in a report that forecast gold production at Otjikoto is expected to be weighted towards the second-half of the year as Wolfshag Phase 1 and Otjikoto Phase 2 pits reach higher grade and lower strip ratio benches.
The mine had a very strong start to the year with first quarter gold production of 42,774 ounces, significantly above budget by 20 percent (or 7,082 ounces) and also 20 percent (or 7,071 ounces) greater than the first quarter of 2016, the company said in a report this week. B2Gold said the increase over both budget and the prior-year quarter was mainly due to better-than-expected grade and ore tonnage from the new Wolfshag Phase 1 pit and increased high grade ore tonnage from the bottom of the Otjikoto Phase 1 pit, accompanied by smaller gains from improved plant performance.
The average grade processed in the quarter was 1,62 grams per tonne, compared to budget of 1,39 grams per tonne and 1,37 grams per tonne in the first quarter of 2016.
“To date, there has been a positive reconciliation in terms of both grade and ore tonnage from the oxide portion of the Wolfshag Phase 1 Pit versus the resource model. As a result, processed ore from Wolfshag was approximately 230,000 tonnes at a grade of 1,90 grams per tonne versus a budget of 84,000 tonnes at a grade of 1,41 grams per tonne.”
The report said life-of-mine production plans for the Otjikoto Mine, incorporating preliminary projections for the Wolfshag open pit and underground mines, have been completed for various options and will be further refined as the detailed geotechnical, hydrogeological, and design studies are completed by the end of the third quarter of 2017.
“Ongoing studies are leading the company to re-evaluate the open pit and underground interface.”
Otjikoto’s forecast 2017 ‘all-in sustaining costs’ are expected to be between US$855 and US$885 per ounce, reflecting higher projected strip ratios at the new Otjikoto Phase 2 and Wolfshag Phase 1 pits.
The average strip ratios at Otjikoto are expected to be lower in 2018 and 2019.