B2Gold Corp. (TSX: BTO) (NYSE AMERICAN: BTG) (NSX: B2G) (“B2Gold” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Government of Mali has recently granted B2Gold’s Malian subsidiary a new exploration permit covering the same perimeter as the Menankoto permit (the “Menankoto Permit”), which together with the Bantako North permit comprises the Anaconda area, located 20 kilometres from the Fekola Mine. The Company is also pleased to announce an updated and significantly increased Mineral Resource estimate for the Cardinal-FMZ deposits (the “Cardinal Zone”), located approximately 500 metres from the Fekola resource pit.
Exploration on the Menankoto Permit expected to commence by February 15, 2022, initially with two drill rigs and additional drill rigs to be deployed shortly thereafter, with drilling continuing on the Bantako North permit (which together with the Menankoto Permit comprise the Anaconda area)
In 2022, the Company will continue drilling to infill and extend the saprolite resource area and to follow up on the sulphide mineralization at the Anaconda area, including the Mamba, Adder and several other targets below the saprolite mineralization in 2022. The good grade and width combinations at the Anaconda area continue to provide a strong indication of the potential for Fekola-style south plunging bodies of sulphide mineralization, which remains open down plunge below the saprolite
Preliminary planning by the Company has demonstrated that a pit situated on the Anaconda area could provide saprolite material to be trucked to and fed into the Fekola mill commencing in late 2022, subject to obtaining all necessary permits and completion of a final mine plan
The Company has budgeted $33 million in 2022 to facilitate Phase 1 saprolite mining at the
Cardinal Zone Mineral Resource Update
Significantly increased updated Mineral Resource estimate for Cardinal Zone (as at December 31, 2021) with an initial Indicated Mineral Resource estimate of 8,000,000 tonnes at 1.67 grams per tonne (“g/t”) gold for 430,000 ounces of gold, and an updated Inferred Mineral Resource estimate of 19,000,000 tonnes at 1.21 g/t gold for 740,000 ounces of gold, constrained within a conceptual pit run at US$1,800 per ounce gold
The oxide mineralization within the updated Indicated Mineral Resource for the Cardinal Zone, which is currently being mined, is a low-cost source of mill feed to the Fekola Mine, with approximately 50,000 ounces budgeted to be produced from the Cardinal Zone in 2022 (and has been included in the Fekola Mine’s 2022 annual production guidance), and has the potential to add an average of approximately 60,000 ounces per year of sulphide mineralization over the next 6 to 8 years to Fekola’s annual gold production
Gold mineralization at the Cardinal Zone extends over 3.5 kilometres along strike and intersected up to 350 metres vertically below surface, with mineralization remaining open at depth and down-plunge
Receipt of New Menankoto Permit
In December 2021, B2Gold and the Government of Mali were pleased to reach an agreement in principle relating to the dispute on the Menankoto Permit, where the Government of Mali agreed that it would grant a new exploration permit covering the same perimeter as the Menankoto Permit to a new Malian subsidiary of B2Gold, and B2Gold would withdraw the international arbitration proceedings that its Malian subsidiary commenced against the Republic of Mali. B2Gold’s Malian subsidiary has now received the new Menankoto Permit, issued by the Government of Mali in compliance with the procedures and requirements set out under the Malian 2019 Mining Code (previous permit had been issued under the Malian 2012 Mining Code), which provides for an initial term of three years and renewable for 2 additional three year periods. B2Gold’s Malian subsidiary has now withdrawn the international arbitration proceedings against the Republic of Mali.
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With the receipt of the Menankoto Permit, exploration on the Menankoto Permit is expected to commence by February 15, 2022, initially with two drill rigs operating, which will build on the $27 million that the Company has spent to date on Menankoto Permit, with additional drill rigs to be deployed shortly thereafter. The Company plans to continue focusing on upgrading and expanding the existing saprolite Mineral Resource estimate of 21.6 million tonnes at 1.11 g/t for 770,000 ounces for the Anaconda area (originally released in June 2017). An updated Mineral Resource estimate based on the results from the extensive 2020 and 2021 infill and exploration drill program is expected in the first quarter of 2022 and will feed into engineering studies currently underway. This updated Mineral Resource estimate will also include an initial Mineral Resource estimate for the sulphide material below the saprolite. Additionally, the Company has completed environmental and social studies to support permitting efforts.
In 2022, the Company will continue drilling to infill and extend the saprolite resource area and to follow up on the sulphide mineralization at the Anaconda area, including the Mamba, Adder and several other targets below the saprolite mineralization. The good grade and width combinations at the Anaconda area continue to provide a strong indication of the potential for Fekola-style south plunging bodies of sulphide mineralization, which remains open down plunge.
The potential to truck material from the nearby Anaconda area in late 2022 (comprised of the Menankoto Permit and the Bantako North permit) is currently being developed and is not included in Fekola’s production guidance. The Fekola Mine has not included the Mineral Resources from the Anaconda area in the current Fekola life of mine plan. Preliminary planning by the Company has demonstrated that a pit situated on the Anaconda area could provide saprolite material to be trucked to and fed into the Fekola mill commencing in late 2022, increasing the ore processed and annual gold production from the Fekola mill, subject to obtaining all necessary permits and completion of a final mine plan, with the potential to add an average of approximately 80,000 to 100,000 ounces per year to Fekola’s annual gold production. In 2022, a total of $33 million has been budgeted to facilitate Phase 1 saprolite mining at the Anaconda area. The Company plans on commencing a Phase II study when the updated Mineral Resource estimate on the sulphide material becomes available and based on 2022 exploration drilling results to review the project economics of trucking sulphide material to the Fekola mill as compared to constructing another stand-alone mill near the Anaconda area.
This additional feed from the Anaconda area to the Fekola Mine has the potential to provide immediate value to B2Gold and the State of Mali, B2Gold’s 20% partner at the Fekola Mine, and communities near the project, and create significant long-term benefits for the Government of Mali as well as employment opportunities and value generation for the communities located both near the Menankoto deposit, regionally and nationally.
Since the Company commenced its investment in Mali, B2Gold has enjoyed a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the Government of Mali. Most recently, B2Gold partnered with the Government of Mali to assist the people of Mali facing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its impact on the mining sector. B2Gold continues to explore additional ways in which it might help both B2Gold’s stakeholders and the Government deal with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.