B2Gold budgets N$180m for exploration at Otjikoto

Canadian company B2Gold Corporation has budgeted a total of US$9 million (N$180 million) for exploration at its Otjikoto Mine in Namibia during 2024, making it the largest programme since the Wolfshag discovery in 2012.

The mine has previously announced plans to wind down some operations, and new explorations could bring hope to affected stakeholders, including workers.

The focus of this envisaged exploration programme will be drilling the recently discovered Antelope deposit, located approximately three kilometres south of Phase 5 of the Otjikoto open pit, with a total of 39 000 metres of drilling planned.

This was announced by the company’s chief executive, Clive Johnson, in a 2024 guidance and preliminary 2025 production outlook and gold prepay arrangement report, issued yesterday.

Johnson reported strong quarterly total gold production in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The company recorded higher than anticipated total gold production in that quarter of 288 665 ounces, including 18 054 ounces of attributable production from Calibre Mining Corp.

According to the report, the company realised a total gold production of 1 061 060 ounces for 2023, achieving the upper half of 2023 guidance, and marking the company’s eighth consecutive year of meeting or exceeding annual production guidance.

Otjikoto Mine in Namibia, in which B2Gold holds a 90% interest, produced 81 111 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter of 2023, a quarterly record, with production from the Wolfshag underground mine remaining consistent through the quarter.

“For the full year 2023, Otjikoto Mine produced 208 598 ounces of gold, reaching near the upper end of its guidance range of 190 000 to 210 000 ounces,” said Johnson in the report.

For the fourth quarter of 2023, consolidated gold revenue was US$512 million on sales of 256 921 ounces at an average realised gold price of US$1 993 per ounce.

For the full year 2023, consolidated gold revenue was US$1,934 billion on sales of 994 060 ounces at an average realised gold price of US$1 946 per ounce.

The company expects gold production at Otjikoto to be relatively consistent throughout 2024, with the mine expected to process a total of 3,4 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1,77 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, with a process gold recovery of 98%.

Otjikoto Mine output is expected to be between 180 000 and 200 000 ounces of gold in 2025, similar to 2024. Mill throughput, gold grade processed and gold recoveries, are all expected to be similar to 2024 levels.

“Processed ore will be sourced from the Otjikoto pit and the Wolfshag underground mine, supplemented by existing medium and high-grade ore stockpiles.

“Open-pit mining operations are scheduled to ramp down throughout 2024 and conclude in 2025, while underground mining operations at Wolfshag will continue through 2026,” said Johnson, who added that exploration results received to date indicate the potential to extend underground production at Wolfshag beyond 2026, supplementing the processing operations which will continue until 2031, when economically viable stockpiles are forecast to be exhausted.

In addition, the company recently received positive exploration drilling results from a new area, located approximately three kilometres south of the Otjikoto Mine Phase 5 open pit, referred to as the Antelope deposit.

Capital expenditures in 2024 at Otjikoto are expected to total US$33 million, of which approximately US$32 million is classified as sustaining capital expenditures and US$1 million is classified as growth capital expenditures.
Sustaining capital expenditures are anticipated to include US$32 million for capitalised stripping and deferred underground development.

– email: matthew@namibian.com.na

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