B2Gold's total gold production is forecast to be between 970,000 to 1,030,000 ounces in 2021, compared to total production of 1,040,737 ounces in 2020, according to the Canadian mining outfit in a statement released this week.
B2Gold's Otjikoto Mine located in Namibia is expected to produce between 190,000 to 200,000 ounces of gold in 2021, a significant increase of approximately 16% (compared to 168,041 ounces produced in 2020), and is in the range of Otjikoto's annual production record (of 191,534 ounces achieved in 2017), as high-grade ore is scheduled to be sourced from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit in the second half of 2021.
Otjikoto's cash operating costs are forecast to be between U$480 to U$520 per oz and all-in sustaining cost to be between U$830 to U$870 per ounce.
According to the explorer for 2021, Otjikoto is budgeted to process a total of 3.4 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1.77 g/t with process gold recovery of 98%. Mining activities are scheduled to focus on waste stripping in Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit and Phase 3 of the Otjikoto Pit in the first half of 2021.
In the first half of 2021, ore is scheduled to be sourced mainly from medium grade stockpiles, resulting in an average head grade of approximately 0.87 g/t in the first half of 2021, compared to a head grade of approximately 2.67 g/t in the second half of 2021 when high grade ore from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit is available.
According to the statement, the Wolfshag ore zone is narrow and high grade, with pit and phase strip ratios that result in a highly variable gold production profile. Approximately 70% of the gold produced in 2021 is expected to be mined from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit, (with material ore production starting early in the third quarter of 2020 following the waste stripping campaign).
As a result of the timing of this high-grade ore mining, Otjikoto's production is expected to be significantly weighted to the second half of 2021. For the first half of 2021, Otjikoto's gold production is expected to be between 45,000 to 50,000 oz, which is expected to increase significantly to between 145,000 to 150,000 oz during the second half of 2021.
Meanwhile, B2Gold said development of the Wolfshag underground mine continues to progress well and on schedule. This project is expected to bring forward production of high-grade ore from the Wolfshag deposit and reduce production costs. The mine development will also provide access for down-plunge and parallel exploration and has been designed to support future expansions.
Project spending is currently estimated to total U$57 million (of which U$26 million is budgeted to be incurred in 2021) from completion of the internal study to production of stope ore, they said.
Portal development was completed in 2020, and activities in 2021 will focus on horizontal and vertical development to produce stope ore in the first quarter of 2022.
The current Wolfshag underground Mineral Reserve estimate includes 1.2 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 5.57 g/t, for a total of 210,000 contained ounces of gold.