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SOUTHERN AFRICA | GOLD B2GOLD’S OTJIKOTO MINE First gold pour at Otjikoto TSX/NYSE/NSX-listed gold company B2Gold’s Otjikoto gold mine in Namibia, which achieved commercial production one month ahead of schedule in February, is already exceeding production expectations. So it comes as no surprise that the company is already well underway with an expansion to significantly increase its annual gold production. By CHANTELLE KOTZE. IN SHORT B2Gold’s Otjikoto gold mine is expected to produce between 140 000 and 150 000 oz of gold in 2015, while its annual gold production is on track to increase to about 200 000 ozpa from 2016 following a mill expansion. B ased on its current resources and reserves, Otjikoto has a 12.5 year lifespan, delivering about 140 00 ozpa for the first five years and 112 000 ozpa on average over the full life-of-mine timeframe. Its gold processing plant, designed for easy expansion, uses traditional process methods and comprises a SAG ball gyratory crusher, pre-elution tanks and leach tanks as well as a standard carbon-in-pulp circuit. Although only in its first year of production, B2Gold remains on schedule with a mill expansion project, which will increase throughput from 2.5 Mtpa to 3 Mtpa. The impact of this should increase the mine’s gold production, starting in September 2015. The installation of the first additional leach tank at the mill was completed in the first quarter. Major additional work that must still be completed and is currently under way is installation of a second leach tank, the construction of a pebble crusher (which has been ordered) and the associated piping and pumping component, which B2Gold anticipates will be completed by the end of August. Once the planned mill expansion is complete, B2Gold expects annual gold Otjikoto pit, 11 December 2014 production from the main Otjikoto pit to increase significantly to approximately 200 000 oz in 2016 and 2017. First quarter performance In January 2015, Otjikoto continued its strong ramp up to commercial production and produced 8 587 oz against a budget of 8 267 oz. February 2015 also saw gold production ahead of budget, with 10 228 oz produced versus the 8 863 oz budgeted. During March 2015, which offi cially marked the first month of commercial production, the mill produced 12 319 oz of gold against a budgeted 11 964 oz. Based on the performance of the mill, and the fact that B2Gold met commercial production criteria of 30 consecutive days of mill throughput at 65% of nameplate capacity by 28 February 2015, the Otjikoto gold project started to declare commercial production as of that date. Otjikoto process plant with SAG and ball mills in the foreground 28 MINING REVIEW AFRICA | MAY 2015