In early October 2017, Vancouver miner B2Gold celebrated the first gold pour at its flagship Fekola mine, and by the end of the month had already produced nearly 34,000 ounces. While initially not expected to begin producing until December, Fekola has been constructed in just over two years and is expected to reach commercial production at the end of November – four months ahead of schedule.
The first doré bars at Fekola round off a decade of rapid growth for B2Gold, a mid-tier miner that has a strong background of constructing the mines it operates. In ten years it has evolved from a junior exploration company with zero output to the owner of five mines with an estimated production of up to 975,000 ounces in 2018.
Clive Johnson, B2Gold’s president and CEO, said the acquisition of the Fekola project is in line with B2Gold’s history of “accretive acquisitions of developed projects that are ready to build,” supported by the company’s historic “willingness to be contrarian.”
When B2Gold bought the property from Australian junior Papillon Resources in October 2014 for US$570 million, it faced zero competition. Johnson said he found this “very surprising,” given the “impressive” results of Papillon’s feasibility study and the property’s location on a well-known gold belt home to mines run by AngloGold Ashanti, IAMGOLD and Randgold.
De-risked through due diligence
Johnson said that the lack of competition for Fekola was a reflection of an industry marred by bad deals, shoddy business decisions and uneasy shareholders and investors.
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