WINDHOEK - Canadian gold miner B2Gold has started the phased closure of its Otjikoto openpit mine in Namibia because of its depleted gold resource, the company said on Tuesday.
The mine, which began commercial production in March 2015, produced 161,614 ounces of gold in 2022, contributing nearly 16% of B2Gold's total output last year. The Canadian miner also has operations in Mali and the Philippines as well as exploration projects in Uzbekistan, Finland and Colombia.
"B2Gold Namibia has commenced with the implementation of its Phased Mine Closure Plan at the Otjikoto mine. Phased downscaling of operations, in line with the closure plan, are only scheduled to commence during the first quarter of 2024," it said in response to Reuters questions.
The company said it was consulting workers likely to be affected by the closure. It did not say how many of the 942 permanent employees would be affected, saying job cuts would be determined by the ramp-down schedule.
Economically viable operations at Otjikoto, which includes low-grade stock processing, are projected to end in 2031. Open-pit viability is projected to end in 2024, with output dropping to 50% of production capacity.
B2Gold says it will continue to develop its underground mine at Otjikoto in an effort to replace ounces from the winding down of open-pit operations.
It is also in the process of acquiring Canadian exploration and development company Sabina Gold & Silver Corp in a C$1.2-billion ($897.5-million) all-share deal.
The deal will give B2Gold control of Sabina's five high-grade gold blocks in Canada's Nunavut region, where the most advanced project is expected to start production during the first quarter of 2025 at an average annual rate of 300,000 ounces over 15 years.