THE Masbate Gold Project is continuing its strong operational performance with above budget production during the September quarter. This prompted B2Gold to increase 2016 production guidance to between 200,000 and 210,000 ounces from 175,000 to 185,000 ounces.
Production of 47,676 ounces was 4%, or 1806 ounces, above budget and 18%, or 7308 ounces, above production in the third quarter of 2015.
This was driven by better than expected grades from Main Vein Stage 1 pit and higher recoveries from higher than budgeted oxide ore from Colorado pit. In addition, recoveries were positively impacted by the newly completed process plant upgrades, which have added residence time and additional oxygen to the CIL circuit to achieve optimum leach performance.
In the September quarter high grade ore tonnes mined from the Mein Vein Stage 1 pit were significantly above budget by 68% at almost 1.3 million tonnes versus the budgeted 772,507 tonnes and grade was up 24% @ 1.48 g/t versus the budgeted 1.19 g/t.
High grade ore tonnes from the Colorado pit were also significantly above budget by 39% at more than 1.068 million tonnes @ 0.99 g/t versus the budgeted 769,941 tonnes @ 1.01 g/t. Of the high grade ore mined in the quarter from the Colorado pit, 99% was oxide material compared to budget of 46%.
Mill throughput was 1,604,176 tonnes compared to budget of 1,727,603 tonnes and this was affected by a six day plant shutdown to tie-in various plant upgrades. Mill head grade was 1.20 g/t, 7% higher than budget of 1.12 g/t and 20% higher compared to 1.00 g/t in the third quarter of 2015.
In August 2016, Masbate’s mine plan was adjusted to optimise the development sequence/gold production. The adjustments included accelerated mining in the Main Vein Stage 1 pit, expanding the Colorado pit and commencing site preparations for later Main Vein stages.
In addition, the lower grade but higher recovery Colorado pit ore has been prioritised as mill feed ahead of the higher grade Main Vein ore, largely due to the higher than budgeted oxide ore content from the larger Colorado pit. Excess higher grade ore from Main Vein Stage 1 pit has been stockpiled for processing in 2017.
B2Gold says the modified mine plan provides for optimised production in 2017 and beyond.