B2Gold Corp exceeded budgeted gold production and cash costs at its Martabe project during the September quarter. Production totalled 47,643 ounces of gold at an operating cash cost of US$735 per ounce, compared to budgeted gold production of 45,014 ounces at a budgeted operating cash cost of US$851 per ounce.
The higher than budgeted production was a result of improvements arising from changes in pit sequencing and higher mill throughput. The significant reduction in cash operating costs per ounce resulted from a combination of lower levels of waste movement, lower than budgeted drilling and blasting costs, insurance cost reductions and the higher mill throughputs.
Masbate contributed to total B2Gold third quarter production of 98,992 ounces, a quarterly record, with gold sales of 93,429 ounces. Total gold revenue for the quarter was US$128.7 million and consolidated operating cash cost for the quarter was US$653 per gold ounce, a significant improvement over budgeted operating cash costs of $725 per gold ounce and $732 per ounce reported in the second quarter of 2013.
In the first 9 months of 2013 production at Masbate was 122,433 ounces at an operating cash cost of $791 per ounce, compared to budgeted attributable production of 126,637 ounces at a budgeted operating cash cost of $858 per ounce.
The main reason for lower than expected production was the suspension of operations for 17 days in June to replace a process pipeline. The significant reduction in operating cash costs per ounce for the first nine months resulted from the same factors outlined for the quarter.
Overall, Masbate production for 2013, including non-attributable pre-acquisition production of 7087 ounces, is expected to meet B2Gold's previously released guidance range of 175,000 to 185,000 ounces.
B2Gold's total attributable gold production for the first nine months was 260,736 ounces at a consolidated operating cash cost of $699 per ounce, compared to budgeted total attributable production of 262,154 ounces at a budgeted consolidated operating cash cost of $746 per ounce. Gold revenues for the first nine months totalled $406.2 million on sales of 274,710 ounces, at an average realized price of $1479 per ounce.
President and chief executive officer Clive Johnson says, “In 2013, the company has continued its strong operating and financial performance with record quarterly consolidated gold production, gold revenue and cash flow from operating activities. The company is projecting another record year for gold production in 2013, with consolidated production of 360,000 to 380,000 ounces expected from its Libertad, Limon and Masbate mines. Forecast consolidated cash operating costs for fiscal 2013 are expected to be in the range of $675 to $690 per ounce.”