New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: B2gold Gets Mining Licence for Otjikoto

Windhoek — Canadian junior gold miner B2Gold has obtained the mining licence to develop the Otjikoto gold mine. The mine is expected to come on stream by 2015.

"Mine construction will commence in the first quarter of 2013. Site preparation has already commenced as bush clearing is currently underway. Orders for equipment with a long lead time will be placed shortly and well within the time frame required for full-scale production in January 2015," Clive Johnson, the chief executive officer of B2Gold said in a statement issued this week.

B2Gold owns 92 percent of AuryxGold Namibia.

The remaining 8 percent belongs to local empowerment group EVI Mining.

The Otjikoto gold project has forecast average annual production of over 100 000 ounces of gold over a 10-year mine life based on a preliminary economic assessment released by AuryxGold in 2011.

Feasibility and exploration drilling is underway on the Otjikoto project, which includes 16 150 metres of feasibility study drilling and a further 2 500 metres of exploration drilling to explore beyond the current resource at the Otjikoto project. Regional exploration work will also be conducted on the surrounding area.

B2Gold is based in Vancouver, Canada and has two mines in Nicaragua and a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets in Nicaragua, Colombia and Uruguay.

The company reported a record gold production of 42 156 ounces, ahead of budgeted guidance of 39 517 ounces of gold, for the third quarter of 2012.

Exploration, feasibility and development expenditure for Otjikoto were US$15 million (N$129.8 million) for the first nine months of 2012 compared to the full year's budget of US$43.5 million (N$376.3 million).

Although the timing of payments has lagged behind the original budget, the project remains on schedule.

It is likely, however, that expenditure will be less than budget for 2012 and approximately US$10 million (N$86.5 million) will be deferred to the first quarter of 2013, the company said in the statement.

"Based on current assumptions, the company is projecting gold production to grow to over 700 000 ounces per year, subject to the closing of the transaction with CGA and assuming development of the Otjikoto and Gramalote projects.

"B2Gold will continue to pursue accretive acquisitions and carry out aggressive exploration programmes, as well as optimize production at current operations," the statement said.

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