B2Gold’s Masbate Gold Project in the Philippines continued its strong operational performance during the June quarter, producing 57,188 ounces of gold. This was the project’s second highest quarterly production and was 27% above budget.
Gold production improved against budget mainly due to better grades from the Main Vein pit combined with higher throughput and recoveries driven by higher than budgeted oxide ore from the Colorado pit.
Mill throughput for the second quarter was 1,699,705 tonnes compared to a budget of 1,652,085 tonnes and 1,768,928 tonnes in the corresponding period of 2015. The average gold grade processed was 1.40 grams/tonne (g/t) compared to a budgeted grade of 1.19 g/t and second quarter 2015 grades of 0.96 g/t.
Mill recoveries averaged 75% which was better than budgeted recoveries of 71.3% and slightly below the second quarter of 2015 of 75.8%. Recoveries in the second quarter of 2016 were better than budget as the company processed 31% oxide material and 69% sulphide/transitional material in the quarter versus a budget of 17% and 83%, respectively. B2Gold expects to mine a similar ratio of oxide ore (33%) and sulphide/transitional ore (67%) against a budget of 22% oxide ore and 78% sulphide/transitional ore in the third quarter. The trend of higher than budgeted grades from the Main Vein pit is also expected to continue into the third quarter.
The company is completing a process plant upgrade at the Masbate mine. The work will be completed in phases and is expected to be commissioned and in production by the end of the third quarter of 2016.
Process plant upgrades consisting of additional leaching/adsorption tankage and an oxygenation system were brought online at the end of June.
Further upgrades in progress include a carbon harvest screen, carbon regeneration kiln, and added tailings pumps. The purpose of the plant upgrade is to continue to promote improved gold recovery and higher throughput.
Production at Masbate in the first half of 2016 was 109,915 ounces, which was 21%, or 19,403 ounces, above budget and 26%, or 22,438 ounces, higher than the first half of 2015.
For the full-year Masbate production is expected to meet or exceed the high end of its production guidance range of 175,000 to 185,000 ounces, at cash operating costs of $620 to $660 per ounce.
Masbate’s production contributed to the company’s record quarterly total of 135,242 ounces, which was 4% above budget and 11% greater than the same period of 2015.