B2Gold (TSX:BTO), a mid-tier miner based in Vancouver, has poured its first gold at its Fekola mine in south-western Mali.
This is about three months ahead of schedule, and the company said it’s on track to begin commercial production before the end of the year.
The company expects production of between 50,000 and 55,000 ounces of gold from its new mine in West Africa to bring its total metal production for 2017 to between 530,000 and 570,000 ounces of gold.
B2Gold already operates four gold mines — two in Nicaragua, one in the Philippines, and another in Namibia. Having a fifth operating mine next year would boost B2Gold’s annual production more than 70% to between 925,000 and 975,000 ounces of gold.
Fekola alone is expected to yield between 400,000 to 410,000 ounces of low-cost gold production in 2018.
B2Gold believes the Fekola property, near Mali’s border with Senegal, and about 520 km from the country’s capital, Bamako, has the potential to host additional Fekola-style gold deposits, and surface exploration, regional drilling and geophysics have identified a number of targets.
Hoping to prove how gold-rich the asset is, B2Gold hiked its budget for Fekola and regional exploration to $15.8 million, up from its previous budget of $11.6 million.
Next year the company expects to spend about $15 million on exploration at Fekola, which will include both infill and exploration drilling.