MACIG Connect Series
“[The Fekola gold project] is one of the most promising underdeveloped gold deposits in the world and is set to become one of B2Gold’s chief flagship assets.”
With the acquisition of Papillion Resources in October 2014, can you please outline how the Fekola project in Mali will assist in B2Gold’s growth over the next few years?
Clive Johnson (CJ): B2Gold’s Fekola property, one of the most promising underdeveloped gold deposits in the world was acquired through the acquisition of Papillion Resources in October 2014, and is set to become one of B2Gold’s chief flagship assets. With its history of mining activity and established world-class deposits, Mali is a good country to operate in and B2Gold has received considerable support from the Malian government.
In June 2015, B2Gold announced robust results from the optimized feasibility study at Fekola. According to the feasibility study, the current average annual production for the first seven years is approximately 350,000 oz/y at an average operating cash cost of $418/oz and for the life of mine plan approximately 276,000 oz/y at an average operating cash cost of $552/oz. When the Fekola mine, which is currently in construction, commences gold production in late 2017, B2Gold’s annual production is projected to be more than 800,000 oz gold.
Please outline the recent milestones that have been achieved at the company’s Fekola project thus far.
CJ: Initial construction activities at Fekola began in February 2015, including a new site access road, on-site airstrip , camp pad, and concrete batch plant. All of these activities have allowed the project to move forward and prepare for work after the rainy season that runs from late June through September. The site has been receiving a steady stream of materials for mine construction that commenced in Q4 2015. Activities that are currently scheduled include the construction of the permanent camp, excavation of the mill area, and clearing of the tailings basin. Concurrently, with the activities on site, the B2Gold engineering team continues to work with Lycopodium Engineering in Australia to complete detailed design and procure long-lead items.
It is clear that B2Gold’s success can be attributed to the company’s strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). What do you feel have been the defining moments of B2Gold’s CSR achievements?
CJ: When B2Gold went to Nicaragua there was an anti-mining lobby; the local perception, resulting from past small miner experience, was that mining was detrimental to the environment. B2Gold allayed these fears by explaining how a modern mine is constructed, operates and creates local jobs, with the assurance that it would safeguard the environment. Based on the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Nicaragua, B2Gold was recently presented an “Economic Empowerment and Community Impact” National CSR Award.
B2Gold’s CSR policy in Nicaragua soon formed a company blueprint for CSR initiatives worldwide. For example, B2Gold are actively involved with the two towns, Otjiwarongo and Otavi, near the company’s Otjikoto mine in Namibia, where B2Gold is conducting several community programs including a housing program with the local government to ensure workers have the opportunity to acquire a local home. Similarly, the company has initiated a number of community projects near its Fekola property in Mali.
One of B2Gold’s principal CSR initiatives is to employ local people versus utilizing foreign workers. The local communities work directly for B2Gold, becoming part of B2Gold’s workforce. In Namibia B2Gold have employed 1,000 people for construction work at the company’s Otjikoto mine, where an impressive 90% of employees are local; a figure that is increasing with training. Similarly, B2Gold employs many people from the local population near the Fekola property in Mali to work on construction and ultimately at the mine.
With B2Gold’s increasing presence in Africa, do you have a final message for the readers of MACIG 2016?
CJ: Historically, the mining industry has not always been committed to CSR. Now, this is clearly changing. Providing CSR initiatives are implemented by pairing with local communities and governments, the future will be brighter for mining companies.
B2Gold is constantly finding ways to maximize environmental stewardship and optimize community relations. For a company devoted to “doing the right thing”, CSR is paramount. Ultimately transparency, accountability, responsibility and delivering on CSR promises have been key ingredients to B2Gold’s success. The mining industry can only continue to benefit from the win/win strategy that B2Gold has proven successful.
This interview was part of research being conducted by GBR for its Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide (MAC-IG) 2017. The 2016 edition of MACIG was published in early February and can be accessed here. To participate in this report, please contact Molly Concannon at email@example.com or +258 82 559 4115.