B2Gold’s Masbate mine in the Philippines had a very strong March producing 52,727 ounces of gold against a budget of 45,483 ounces. This was an increase of 7244 ounces, or 16%, above budget and 14%, or 6486 ounces, compared to the same period in 2015.
Gold production improved mainly due to better grades from the Main Vein pit, better throughput and better recoveries.
Mill throughput for the March quarter was 1,785,891 tonnes compared to a budget of 1,658,404 tonnes and 1,756,234 tonnes in the first quarter of 2015.
The average gold grade processed was 1.26 grams/tonne (g/t) compared to a budgeted grade of 1.21 g/t and first quarter 2015 grades of 1.05 g/t.
Mill recoveries averaged 72.86% better than budgeted recoveries of 70.3% but lower than recoveries in the first quarter of 2015 of 78.5%. Recoveries were slightly less than the same period the previous year due to less oxide material being processed at the mill. However, the company processed 30% oxide material and 70% sulphide and transitional material in the first quarter of 2016 versus a budget of 14% and 86%, respectively.
B2Gold expects to mine a similar ratio of oxide ore (30%) and sulphide/transitional ore (70%) against a budget of 17% oxide ore and 83% sulphide/transitional ore during the June quarter.
The company expects production to be further boosted when a process plant upgrade is completed. The plant will be completed in phases and is expected to be commissioned and in production by the end of the third quarter.
Key milestones include carbon harvest screen installation; leaching/absorption tank completion; grinding circuit upgrades completion; water treatment plant and cooling system upgrade completion; and carbon regeneration kiln installation and commissioning.
The Masbate mine is projected to produce approximately 175,000 to 185,000 ounces of gold in 2016 at cash operating costs of approximately $620 to $660 per ounce.
B2Gold’s consolidated production during the March quarter was 127,844 ounces, which was 10% higher than in the same period of 2015 and 8966 ounces better than budget.