Canada-based gold producer B2Gold’s Fekola and Otjikoto mines, in Mali and Namibia, respectively, continue to operate as normal, but the company has had to temporarily suspend mining at its Masbate mine, in the Philippines as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Mining was suspended as a result of a shortage of fuel. Milling at Masbate, however, continues.
Further, B2Gold is moving its ongoing expansion and development projects forward with certain restrictions and delays experienced at individual projects.
The company noted on Monday that it was continuing with its comprehensive Covid-19 response plan and that, to date, it has not recorded any Covid-19 cases at its sites or corporate offices.
The company expects to meet or exceed its budgeted consolidated gold production for the first quarter of this year.
The temporary fuel shortage at Masbate is owing to new regulations imposed by the Philippine government related to Covid-19 to ensure that all materials, including fuel, arriving on Masbate Island via transport, are not contaminated with Covid-19.
A key component of the new regulations relate to the screening and certification of the crews transporting the materials, to ensure that delivery of fuel and other essential supplies to Masbate Island can be appropriately certified for delivery.
The Philippine federal government has also issued a memorandum from the Executive Secretary on March 16, which states that essential supplies should be allowed to continue to be shipped.
B2Gold expects to provide an update on Masbate’s operations, including supply deliveries, later in the week.
The current plan is for the mill at the mine to continue to operate. The company’s intention is to restart mining once fuel supplies have been restored.
Meanwhile, the Fekola mine continues to operate without impediments to mining or milling and is expected to meet or exceed its budgeted gold production estimate for the first quarter of this year.
All supply lines remain open and the site continues to receive supplies critical to operating at full capacity.
In addition, Fekola has also built up a significant reserve of stockpiles that it can comfortably process through the second quarter of this year without a significant change to its yearly guidance, the company said.
Barring any unforeseen work stoppages owing to Covid-19, including consumable supply disruption, the company expects to meet its full-year gold production and cost guidance at Fekola.
The expansion of the Fekola mill continues and is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of this year.
The mining fleet expansion continues to perform; and the expansion of the tailings storage facility remains on schedule and will provide capacity for tailings disposal into 2023.
The solar power plant construction continues but there is a possibility that some components may be delayed, primarily owing to shipping delays, prior to the startup of the solar plant in the third quarter of this year.
This delay is not expected to impact the full-year forecasted yearly production at the mine.
The Otjikoto mine is also expected to meet its budgeted gold production for the first quarter.
All supply lines remain open and the site continues to receive supplies critical to operating at full capacity. The mine continues to operate without impediments to mining or milling and has a significant reserve of stockpiles that it can process through the second quarter of this year without a significant change to its yearly guidance.
Barring any unforeseen work stoppages owing to Covid-19, including consumable supply disruption, the company expects to meet its full-year gold production and cost guidance at the mine.
The underground project at Wolfshag is currently in the tender review process for underground mine development and could potentially be delayed if contractors cannot mobilise to site, as planned, in the second quarter.
B2Gold does not expect that a delay to the underground project will have any impact on the 2020 or 2021 forecasted yearly production at Otjikoto.
At the Gramalote project, in Colombia, the company has determined, after extensive consultation with the surrounding communities and the government, to suspend drilling of the inferred mineral resource.
It will, however, continue to progress the feasibility study where possible.
The suspension of drilling has the potential to delay the completion of the Gramalote project’s feasibility study into the first quarter of 2021.