B2Gold production up 51% in 2018

B2Gold’s Fekola mine in Mali, West Africa. Source: B2Gold Corp.

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B2Gold’s Fekola mine in Mali, West Africa. Source: B2Gold Corp.

B2Gold Corp. [BTO-TSX; BTG-NYSE] said Wednesday January 16 that its gold production in 2018 jumped 51% to a record 953,504 ounces, powered by the strong performance of two key operations. The company is guiding investors to anticipate further production increases in 2019.

Based in Vancouver, B2Gold is a senior gold producer with five operating mines and numerous exploration and development projects in various countries, including Nicaragua, the Philippines, Namibia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Colombia and Finland.

Its roster of producing mines includes the Fekola mine in Mali, West Africa, the Masbate mine in the Philippines, and the Otjikoto mine in Namibia. The company also has two mines in Nicaragua. They are the La Libertad and El Limon mines.

The company has been widely tipped as a takeover target in the wake of news that Goldcorp [G-TSX; GG-NYSE] and Newmont Mining Corp. [NEM-NYSE] have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal worth $10 billion that will make the two companies the world’s leading gold producer.

On Wednesday B2Gold reported record production of 953,504 ounces in 2018, near the top of its revised guidance range of between 920,000 and 960,000 ounces. Production in 2018 marked a 51% increase from 2017.

Gold revenue in 2018 was a record $1.2 million, up 92% from $586 million in 2017.

Strength at Fekola (with 439,000 ounces) and Masbate (216,000 ounces) contributed to the strong performance as both mines exceeded full-year guidance expectations.

Full costs will be reported after the close of trading on March 12, 2019. However, full year all-in-sustaining costs in 2018 are expected to come in at the lower end of the guidance range, which is US$780-US$830 an ounce.

For B2Gold, 2018 was a year of transformational growth, highlighted by the first full-year of commercial production from its new large low-cost Fekola Mine (which achieved commercial production November 30, 2017) and record annual production from the Masbate Mine, the company said.

It was the tenth consecutive year that B2 Gold has achieved record annual consolidated gold production.

In 2019, the company is expecting to produce in a range of between 935,000 ounces and 975,000 ounces.

B2 Gold recently announced a better-than-expected resource estimate for the Fekola mine as well as positive results from a mill expansion study.

Measured and indicated resources at Fekola now stand at 5.73 million ounces gold at 1.92 g/t gold, up from a previous estimate of 3.94 million ounces at 2.08 g/t, marking an increase of 1.8 million ounces.

B2Gold also said it continues to work on an updated mine plan that will consider a mill expansion to 7.5 million tonnes per annum, up from 5.5 million tonnes now to boost production.

On Wednesday, B2 Gold shares were unchanged at $3.82. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $4.06 and $2.77.

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