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B2Gold Corp Provides Updates on its COVID-19 Response Measures

Mining News - Published on Tue, 31 Mar 2020

Image Source: b2gold.com
B2Gold Corp announced that it is continuing to implement enhanced comprehensive COVID-19 response measures and to date has not experienced any incidents of the COVID-19 virus at its sites or corporate offices. B2Gold places the safety and wellbeing of its workforce as the highest priority and continues to encourage input from all its stakeholders as the situation continues to evolve. The Company continues to monitor public and employee sentiment to ensure that stakeholders are in alignment with the continued operations at its mines. The Company has been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and the potential impact at B2Gold's operations since mid-February and has implemented several measures and introduced additional precautionary steps to manage and respond to the risks associated with the COVID-19 virus to ensure the safety of B2Gold's employees, contractors, suppliers and surrounding communities where the Company works while continuing to operate. These measures include the movement of people and goods, hygiene and cleanliness, social distancing and remote working, isolation procedures at B2Gold sites in the event of higher risk personnel, working with surrounding communities and contingency plans for potential disruptions including increases of supplies. The Company is continually updating the plan and response measures based on the safety and wellbeing of its workforce, the severity of the pandemic in areas where it operates, global response measures, government restrictions and extensive community consultation. The Company is working closely with national and local authorities and will be monitoring each site's situation closely while ensuring the safe operation of its mines.

In addition, the Company has resumed mining operations at its Masbate Mine in the Philippines (milling operations have been ongoing) and mining and milling operations continue at the Fekola Mine in Mali and Otjikoto Mine in Namibia. The Company also continues to progress its expansion and development projects with some restrictions and delays being experienced by individual projects. The Company expects to meet or exceed budgeted consolidated gold production for the first quarter of 2020.

The Masbate Mine expects to meet its budgeted gold production estimate for the first quarter of 2020. Due to a temporary fuel shortage, the Masbate Mine suspended mining activities from March 22 to March 29, 2020, during which time the milling operations continued normally, processing ore from stockpiles. The temporary fuel shortage resulted from issues related to local government interpretation of emergency measures imposed by the Philippine national government to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The delivery of cargo to Masbate island, including fuel, was temporarily disrupted due to a requirement that cargo delivery crews be screened and certified free of COVID-19, which posed a logistical challenge given the shortage of testing kits in the country at the time. The Company worked closely with the national and provincial government agencies to resolve the issue. Mining has now recommenced in the Montana pit using an estimated 50% of the mining fleet. The mining and milling operations are being conducted by expatriates and Filipino employees staying at the mine site in compliance with the mandated enhanced quarantine measures, with the remaining workforce comprised of employees residing in villages near the Masbate Mine. The Masbate site team will continue to work closely with the government, communities and employees on the safest and most productive path forward while following the guidelines of the emergency measures to ensure that Masbate island remains COVID-19 free. Currently, there are no recorded cases of COVID-19 on Masbate island. Barring any unforeseen work stoppages due to COVID-19, including further consumable supply disruption, the Company expects to meet its 2020 gold production and cost guidance at the Masbate Mine.

The Fekola Mine expects to meet or exceed its budgeted gold production estimate for the first quarter of 2020 and continues to operate without impediments to mining or milling. All supply lines remain open with only minor delays due to evening curfews imposed in Senegal and Mali, with the Fekola Mine continuing to receive supplies critical for maintaining operations at full capacity. In addition, Fekola has also built up a significant reserve of ore stockpiles that it can comfortably process, if required, through the second quarter of 2020 without a significant change to its annual guidance. The Fekola Mine has taken additional steps to further isolate the site from Bamako with no further transport of personnel from Bamako to site, except for rare exceptions that require testing and quarantine prior to entering site. The Fekola Mine continues to transfer non-essential personnel to Bamako. In addition, the Fekola Mine is adding temporary camp facilities to allow operators and employees who normally reside in the local villages to stay at site, further isolating the site from the surrounding area while the Fekola Mine continues to operate safely. Although Mali has now confirmed the first cases of COVID-19, there have been no recorded cases of the COVID-19 virus in the villages surrounding the Fekola Mine or in the Kéniéba region. The Fekola Mine continues to receive government, community and employee support to keep operating, and these additional isolation measures will hopefully keep the mine isolated from any of the cases now in Mali. The mill expansion and solar power plant construction are expected to continue as long as the Company deems appropriate given the rapidly evolving situation. Gold production guidance for 2020 is not expected to be impacted in the event of a delay to the mill expansion or solar power plant construction projects. Barring any unforeseen work stoppages due to COVID-19, including consumable supply disruption, the Company expects to meet its 2020 gold production and cost guidance at the Fekola Mine.

The Otjikoto Mine expects to meet its budgeted gold production estimate for the first quarter of 2020. To date, the Otjikoto Mine has operated without impediments to mining or milling and has a significant reserve of stockpiles that it could process, if required, through the second quarter of 2020 without a significant change to its annual guidance. On March 27, 2020, the regions of Khomas (Windhoek area) and Erongo (central coastal areas) were placed on a strict lockdown by the Namibian government (the Otjikoto Mine is outside of these regions) until April 17, 2020 and all land, sea and air borders were closed for any travel, apart from cargo permitted for "essential services", including mining.

B2Gold is a low-cost international senior gold producer headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. Founded in 2007, today, B2Gold has operating gold mines Mali, Namibia and the Philippines and numerous exploration and development projects in various countries including Mali and Colombia. In 2020, B2Gold forecasts consolidated gold production of between 1,000,000 and 1,055,000 ounces.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 31 Mar 2020
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