B2Gold (TSX: BTO; NYSE: BTG) says it has completed a mill expansion at its flagship Fekola mine in Mali, which will process 7.5 million tonnes of ore per year, almost a month earlier than planned.
The mid-tier gold miner said it had finished all major construction activities associated with the mill expansion, as well as the execution of a process performance test to compare with design expectations.
The Vancouver-based miner noted that Fekola has continued to operate as usual and that no operational days had been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic or the recent coup in Mali, the second in less than 10 years.
Speaking to MINING.com last week as part of The Northern Miner’s Global Mining Symposium, chief executive officer and director Clive Johnson said the company was “not very worried” about the political situation in Mali, which so far had proven uneventful.
“It was a bloodless coup, supported by the majority of Malians, so the situation has been very calm and supplies are still getting through to mining projects,” he said.
There are eight gold mines in the belt where Fekola is located, in western Mali. The mine is 2,000 km away from Timbuktu, where the government is based, Johnson said.
“All the eight companies that are in the area all understand the nature of security. None of the mines have ever lost a day to any kind of violent activity or any kind of terrorist event. So, we’re in the good part of the country to be in.”
Johnson noted that gold mining is key to Mali, and authorities understand the importance of keeping those operations running smoothly. The activity accounts for 10% of the nation’s GDP and 25% of the revenue that comes to the government through taxes and other streams.
The miner reaffirmed its confidence in Mali by keeping its 2020 guidance of 1,000,000-1,055,000 oz. gold. It also announced a 4¢ per share third-quarter dividend, a 100% increase from the prior 2¢ dividend.
Fekola, one of the world’s largest gold mines, produced 147,424 oz. gold in the second quarter. It largely drove B2Gold’s record revenue of US$442 million, which was 65% higher than in the same period last year.