B2Gold, International gold producer has reached an agreement in principle with the government of Mali in connection with the issuance of the Menankoto exploration permit, which is located near B2Gold’s Fekola mine.
The government of Mali recently announced that it would grant a new exploration permit covering the same perimeter as the Menankoto permit to a new Malian subsidiary of B2Gold. As a result, B2Gold has undertaken to withdraw the arbitration proceedings that its Malian subsidiary Menankoto initiated in June 2021 against the government of Mali under the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.
B2Gold says it expects the new Menankoto permit will be issued to its new Malian subsidiary before the end of this year.
“The company and the State of Mali are both pleased with this outcome and the process to reach this agreement, which was conducted in a fair and transparent manner and restores the company’s interest in the Menankoto permit that it believes Menankoto was entitled to under its original extension application,” B2Gold states.
The operations at the Fekola mine, which is situated on a separate mining licence 20 km from the Menankoto permit and is projected to produce 560 000 oz to 570 000 oz of gold this year, have continued normally and were not impacted by the dispute relating to the Menankoto permit.
In addition, the Fekola mine has not included the mineral resources from the Anaconda area comprised of the Menankoto permit and the Bantako North permit – in the current Fekola life-of-mine plan. The Bantako North permit area contains a significant portion of the Mamba deposit saprolite material and remains open. Preliminary planning by the company has demonstrated that a pit situated on the Bantako North permit area could provide saprolite material for at least one-and-a-half to two years to feed the Fekola mill, starting in the second half of 2022, subject to obtaining all necessary permits and completion of a final mine plan.
“This additional feed from the Anaconda area to the Fekola mine has the potential to provide immediate value to Mali, B2Gold’s 20% partner at the Fekola mine, and communities near the project, and creating significant long-term benefits for the government of Mali, as well as value generation for the communities located both near the Menankoto deposit, regionally and nationally,” B2Gold says.
The Malian authorities have also recently reviewed and approved an update to the environmental- and social-impact assessment for the Fekola mine, which includes the Cardinal zone that is located within 500 m of the current Fekola resource pit.
B2Gold is in the updating the Fekola mine plan to include production from Cardinal, which has the potential to add about 60 000 oz/y to the Fekola mine’s output over the next six to eight years. Grade control drilling at Cardinal is ongoing to upgrade a portion of the mineral resource estimate to the indicated category for 2022 production budget purposes.