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B2Gold Corp. Announces Positive Results from the Updated Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Gramalote Project in Colombia and Assumes Role of Manager of the Gramalote Joint Venture

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B2Gold Corp. Announces Positive Results from the Updated Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Gramalote Project in Colombia and Assumes Role of Manager of the Gramalote Joint Venture

 

 

 

 

 

B2Gold Corp. (TSX: BTO) (NYSE AMERICAN: BTG) (NSX: B2G) is pleased to announce positive results from the Updated  Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Gramalote Ridge deposit at the Gramalote gold project in Colombia, a joint venture between B2Gold and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. B2Gold assumed the role of manager of the Gramalote joint venture on January 1, 2020. All dollar figures are in United States dollars unless otherwise stated.

 

Highlights

 

  • Assuming an effective date of January 1, 2020, and a gold price of $1,350 per ounce, Gramalote Ridge project economic highlights from the PEA (100% basis) include:
    • Open-pit gold mine with an initial life of mine of 13.6 years based on current Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources (for Gramalote Ridge only)
    • LoM gold production of 3.85 million ounces
    • Average annual gold production of 416,600 ounces per year for the first five full years of production
    • Average annual gold production LoM of 283,990 ounces per year at cash operating costs of $544 per ounce of gold
    • Average LoM all-in sustaining costs (“AISC“) of $648 per ounce of gold, and average LoM all-in costs (including pre-production capital costs) of $882 per ounce of gold
    • Annual processing rate of 11.0 million tonnes per annum
    • Average LoM gold recovery of 94.3% from conventional milling, flotation and cyanide leach of the flotation concentrate
    • Estimated pre-production capital cost of $901 million (includes approximately $160 million for mining equipment)
    • LoM pre-tax net cash flow of $1,827 million, and after-tax net cash flow of $1,283 million
    • Assuming a discount rate of 5%, net present value pre-tax of $1,027 million and NPV after-tax of $671 million, generating an after-tax internal rate of return of 18.1% at the project construction decision date (estimated to be January 1, 2021), with a project payback (including construction capital) of 3.6 years
    • Assuming a gold price of $1,500 per ounce and a discount rate of 5%, NPV pre-tax increases to $1,394 million and NPV after-tax increases to $928 million, generating an after-tax IRR of 21.9% at the project construction decision date (estimated to be January 1, 2021) and reducing the project payback (including construction capital) to 3.2 years
  • Continue ongoing feasibility work to optimize the PEA results and a final feasibility study expected to be completed by December 31, 2020
  • Amended and restated shareholders agreement signed by B2Gold and AGA on December 23, 2019, under which B2Gold agreed to sole fund the next $13.9 million of expenditures on the Gramalote Project, following which B2Gold and AGA will each hold a 50% ownership interest in the joint venture (currently 48.3% B2Gold and 51.7% AGA)
  • Exploration drilling is ongoing at the Trinidad deposit, with additional drilling at the Monjas zone to commence later in 2020

 

The PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred Mineral Resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA based on these Mineral Resources will be realized. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

 

B2Gold is currently completing approximately 42,500 metres of infill drilling at Gramalote Ridge to convert existing Inferred Mineral Resources to an Indicated category, and 7,645 metres of geotechnical drilling for site infrastructure.

 

Gramalote Project Mineral Resource Estimate

 

The Mineral Resource estimate for the overall Gramalote Project (100% basis), effective December 31, 2019, within a pit shell run at a gold price of $1,500 per ounce includes:

 

Indicated Mineral Resource Estimate

 

 

Area Tonnes Gold Grade
(g/t)
Contained Gold
Ounces
Gramalote Sulphide 78,200,000 0.85 2,140,000
Total Indicated Resources 78,200,000 0.85 2,140,000

 

 

Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate

 

 

Area Tonnes Gold Grade
(g/t)
Contained Gold
Ounces
Gramalote Oxide 6,000,000 0.61 120,000
Trinidad Oxide 3,100,000 0.55 50,000
Subtotal Oxide Inferred 9,100,000 0.59 170,000
       
Gramalote Sulphide 105,600,000 0.70 2,370,000
Trinidad Sulphide 14,400,000 0.62 290,000
Subtotal Sulphide Inferred 120,100,000 0.69 2,660,000
       
Total Inferred Resources 129,200,000 0.68 2,830,000
Notes:
1. Mineral Resources have been classified using the CIM Standards.
2. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
3. The Qualified Person for the Mineral Resource estimate is Tom Garagan, P.Geo., B2Gold’s Senior Vice President, Exploration.
4. Mineral Resources are reported on a 100% project basis (B2Gold currently holds a 48.3% attributable interest with the remaining 51.7% interest held by AGA).
5. Mineral Resources for Gramalote assume metallurgical recoveries of 83.9% for oxide and 95% for sulphide, and operating cost estimates of an average mining cost of $2.13/t mined, processing cost of $3.35/t processed for oxide and $6.58/t processed for sulphide, general and administrative cost of $1.89/t processed and selling cost of $50.52/oz produced.
6. Mineral Resources for Trinidad assume metallurgical recoveries of 81.7% for oxide and 90.9% for sulphide, and operating cost estimates of an average mining cost of $1.82/t mined, processing cost of $3.35/t processed for oxide and $6.58/t processed for sulphide, general and administrative cost of $1.89/t processed and selling cost of $50.52/oz produced.
7. Mineral Resources for Gramalote and Trinidad are reported at cut-offs of 0.15 g/t gold for oxide and 0.20 g/t gold for sulphide.
8. All tonnage, grade and contained metal content estimates have been rounded; rounding may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.

 

 

PEA Overview

 

The Gramalote Project is located in central Colombia, approximately 230 kilometres (“km“) northwest of Bogota and 120 km northeast of Medellin, in the Province of Antioquia which has expressed a positive attitude towards the development of responsible mining projects in the region. The PEA was prepared by B2Gold and evaluates recovery of gold from a an open-pit mining operation that will move up to 143,000 tonnes per day (50.0  Mtpa), with a 30,137 tpd  (11.0 Mtpa) processing plant that includes crushing, grinding, flotation, with fine grinding of the flotation concentrate and agitated leaching of both the flotation concentrate and the flotation tails, followed by a carbon-in-pulp recovery process to produce doré bullion.  The PEA is based solely on production from the Gramalote Ridge deposit and does not include potential production from the nearby Trinidad deposit, which has a current Inferred Mineral Resource estimate (see above), and the Monjas West zone. The Mineral Resource estimate for Gramalote Ridge that forms the basis for the PEA includes Indicated Mineral Resources of 70,110,000 tonnes grading 0.92 g/t gold for a total of 2,070,000 ounces of gold and Inferred Mineral Resources of 79,030,000 tonnes grading 0.79 g/t gold for a total of 2,010,000 ounces of gold.

 

The PEA updates and enhances the previous studies on the Gramalote Project in several areas, including:

 

  • For Gramalote Ridge, additional drilling has been completed and a new Mineral Resource model has been developed
  • The PEA is based solely on Gramalote Ridge Mineral Resources, where previous studies included mining and processing ore from the Trinidad deposit and the Monjas West zone
  • Recent metallurgical test work has resulted in slightly lower processing costs and improved economics
  • The new Mineral Resource model for Gramalote Ridge includes new interpretations of higher grade ore zones and has allowed more efficient mine optimization, which has resulted in higher grade ore being fed to the plant during the first years of production, significantly improving project economics
  • Due to better defined high-grade zones in Gramalote Ridge in the block model, the overall gold grade for the PEA is 0.85 g/t, which is significantly higher than previous studies

 

Accelerated mining is planned in the early years of production to provide higher grade feed to the plant while stockpiling lower grade material. The final four years of plant feed are from low-grade stockpiles and oxide ore. Oxide ore, which only makes up about 3% of the plant feed, will be stockpiled and processed at the very end of the project life as blending this material with the fresh ore does not yield optimal gold recoveries.  

 

The PEA assumptions include revenues using a gold price of $1,350 per ounce and current prices for fuel, reagents, labour, power and other consumables. The key parameters of the PEA are presented in the following table (100% basis):

 

 

Production Profile  
Contained gold ounces processed (Moz) 4.082
Gold recovery (%) 94.3
Average gold grade (g/t) 0.85
Gold ounces produced (Moz) 3.85
Average gold production for the first five years (oz) 416,600
Average annual gold production (oz) 283,990
Mine life (years) 13.6
Ore tonnes processed (Mt) 149
Waste material mined (Mt) 288
Waste to ore strip ratio 1.93
Project Economics – $1,350 /oz gold price  
Construction capital ($M) 901
Sustaining capital ($M) 103
Gross gold revenue ($M) 5,198
Net cash flow (pre-tax) ($M) 1,827
Net cash flow (after tax) ($M) 1,283
NPV5.0% (pre-tax) ($M) 1,027
NPV5.0% (after tax) ($M) 671
IRR (after tax) (%) 18.1
Payback (years) 3.6
Unit Operating Costs  
LoM cash operating costs (mining, processing and site G&A) ($/oz gold) 544
LoM AISC (cash operating costs + royalties, corporate G&A, selling costs and
silver credits and excluding pre-production capital costs) ($/oz gold)
648
LoM all-in costs (AISC and pre-production capital costs) ($/oz gold) 882
Average LoM mining cost ($/t mined) 2.16
Average LoM processing cost ($/t processed) 5.61

 

 

Based on the positive results from the PEA, B2Gold believes that the Gramalote Project has the potential to become a large, low-cost open-pit gold mine, subject to completion of ongoing infill drilling and the results of a final feasibility study expected by the end of 2020. The Gramalote Project has several key infrastructure advantages, including:

 

  • Reliable water supply – high rainfall region and located next to the Nus River
  • Adjacent to a national highway, which connects directly to Medellin and to a major river with port facilities, capable of bringing supplies by barge to within 70 km of the site
  • Proximity to the national electricity grid with ample low-cost power and a stable record of hydroelectric power
  • Skilled labour workforce within Colombia

 

In addition, B2Gold expects the Gramalote Project to benefit from several key operational advantages, including:

 

  • Excellent metallurgical characteristics of the ore, which results in high recovery rates at low processing costs
  • Relatively low strip ratio in the mine (1.9:1)
  • Ability to mine and process higher grade ore in the initial years of the mine life resulting in improved project economics

 

The PEA is subject to a number of assumptions and risks, including among others, that a Modified Environment Impact Study and a Modified Project Implementation plan will be approved within the required timeline, all required permits and other rights will be obtained in a timely manner, the Gramalote Project will have the support of the local government and community, the regulatory environment will remain consistent and no material increase will have occurred to the estimated costs.

 

Economic Sensitivities

 

Gramalote is a large, low-grade, low-cost project and sensitive to the gold price, as demonstrated in the following table:

 

Gold Price
($/oz)
NPV5%
($M)
After Tax IRR
(%)
  Pre-tax Post tax  
$1,250 $783 $497 15.2%
$1,300 $905 $585 16.7%
$1,350 $1,027 $671 18.1%
$1,400 $1,150 $757 19.4%
$1,450 $1,272 $842 20.7%
$1,500 $1,394 $928 21.9%
$1,550 $1,516 $1,014 23.2%
$1,600 $1,638 $1,099 24.3%
$1,650 $1,761 $1,185 25.5%

 

 

Project Next Steps

 

B2Gold and AGA have agreed on a budget for the feasibility study on the Gramalote Project of approximately $37 million through the end of 2020. This budget will fund 42,500 metres of infill drilling to convert existing Inferred Mineral Resources to the Indicated category, and 7,645 metres of geotechnical drilling for site infrastructure. The Company currently expects to complete all drilling by the end of May 2020. In addition, the budget will fund feasibility work including an updated Mineral Resource estimate, detailed mine planning, ongoing environmental studies, additional metallurgical test work, engineering and detailed economic analysis.

 

The Gramalote joint venture will continue to advance resettlement programs, establish coexistence programs for small miners, work on health, safety and environmental projects and continue to work with government and local communities on social programs. B2Gold, as manager, plans to continue the feasibility work with the goal of B2Gold completing a final feasibility study by December 31, 2020. Due to the amount of work completed by AGA over the past several years, including extensive testing programs, the work with local communities and small miners, and the high level of engineering performed in 2017 for an internal study, the work remaining to reach final feasibility is not extensive. The main work program for feasibility is infill drilling to confirm and upgrade the Inferred Mineral Resources to the Indicated category.

 

The Environmental Impact Study and Project Implementation Plans for the Gramalote Project have been fully approved by the National Authority of Environmental Licenses of Colombia. Due to the desired modifications to the processing plant and infrastructure locations, a Modified Environment Impact Study and a Modified Project Implementation plan were submitted and are currently in the final approval process. If the final economics of the feasibility study are positive and the joint venture makes the decision to develop Gramalote as an open-pit gold mine, B2Gold would utilize its proven internal mine construction team to build the mine and mill facilities and operate the mine on behalf of the joint venture.

 

Qualified Persons   

 

Tom Garagan, Senior Vice President, Exploration at B2Gold, a qualified person under NI 43-101, has approved the scientific and technical information regarding exploration matters and the Mineral Resource estimate contained in this news release.  

 

Bill Lytle, Senior Vice President, Operations at B2Gold, a qualified person under NI 43-101, has approved the scientific and technical information related to operations matters contained in this news release. Mr. Lytle has visited the Gramalote Project several times since 2009 and has reviewed the mining operations and has reviewed the technical aspects of the PEA that form the basis for this news release.

 

About B2Gold Corp.

 

B2Gold is a low-cost senior gold producer headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. Founded in 2007, today, B2Gold has three operating gold mines and numerous exploration and development projects in various countries including the Philippines, Namibia, Mali and Colombia. In 2020, B2Gold forecasts consolidated gold production of between 1,000,000 and 1,055,000 ounces.

 

Posted January 21, 2020

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