B2Gold’s Otjikoto Mine is expected to produce between 190 000 to 200 000 ounces of gold in 2021, which is a significant increase of approximately 16%, compared to 168 041 ounces produced in 2020 - and it is in the range of Otjikoto’s annual production record of 191 534 ounces achieved in 2017.
The production increase is mainly attributable to high-grade ore, scheduled to be sourced from Phase 3 of the mine’s Wolfshag Pit in the second half of 2021.
Otjikoto’s current life span is expected to reach 2029, with probable future extensions to the underground operation.
The underground mine project, which began in November 2020 and is progressing well, is expected to extend the life of the mine. In the fourth quarter of 2020, development of the portal was completed, and development of the primary underground ramp commenced.
Development continued during the first quarter of 2021, and stope ore production is expected to commence in early 2022, in line with original estimates.
The initial underground Mineral Reserve estimate for the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag orebody included 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 g/t gold.
For this year, Otjikoto’s cash operating costs are forecast to be between US$480 to US$520 per ounce; the All-In Sustaining Cost (AISC) is expected to be between US$830 to US$870 per ounce.
According to B2Gold Namibia’s Managing Director Mark Dawe, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly influenced social and working environments on the mine.
“Social distancing policies, mandatory lockdowns, isolation and anxiety of getting sick, along with the fear of uncertainty in the future, jointly influenced the mental health of Otjikoto Mine employees to an extent.
However, through effective and proactive management, as well as regular information-sharing, the negative effects were mostly minimised.
On-going campaigns, aligned to the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) guidance, are also being maintained, especially awareness surrounding the need to be vaccinated.” said Dawe.
Meanwhile, B2Gold says it is committed to investing in Namibia’s people through its very significant Corporate Social Investment Programmes, through training and professional development, performance management, workplace initiatives, and opportunities for career advancement. B2Gold uses mentorship, job rotation, and other activities to broaden the skills and experiences of key individuals.
In addition, the company provided workplace opportunities for interns from vocational training centres and tertiary institutions to gain experience in their fields of study.
Said Dawe: “Individual Development Plans are maintained for each worker, which ensure their competency levels meet company standards and job role requirements. Otjikoto is completing a thorough job evaluation process, and identified the need to improve leadership-related skills for supervisory and management levels, which will continue in 2021. Through its Atushe Vamwe programme (We are One), B2Gold Namibia also trains supervisors to cultivate an organisational culture that focuses on principles of inclusivity, equity and diversity,” Dawe explained.