B2Gold Corp. (TSX: BTO, NYSE AMERICAN: BTG, NSX: B2G) (“B2Gold” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Company and AngloGold Ashanti Limited (“AngloGold”) have agreed in principle to terms relating to the parties’ respective ownership percentages and future management of the joint venture on the Gramalote gold project in Colombia. The companies have agreed that B2Gold will sole fund the next $13.9 million of expenditures on the Gramalote Project (the “Sole Fund Amount”), following which B2Gold will hold a 50% ownership interest in the joint venture (B2Gold currently holds a 48.3% interest). Under the amended terms, AngloGold and B2Gold will each hold a 50% interest and B2Gold will start an immediate transition to become manager of the Gramalote joint venture by the end of 2019, conditional upon the parties entering into an amended and restated shareholders agreement. The parties will continue to have equal representation on the joint venture management committee. Following the expenditure of the Sole Fund Amount, each joint venture partner will fund its share of expenditures pro rata.
B2Gold and AngloGold have also agreed on a budget for the feasibility study on the Gramalote Project up to $40 million for the remainder of 2019 and through the end of 2020. This budget will fund 42,500 metres of infill drilling and 7,645 metres of geotechnical drilling for site infrastructure. The Company currently expects to complete all drilling by the end of May 2020. In addition, the budget will fund feasibility work including an updated mineral resource, detailed mine planning, additional environmental studies, metallurgical test work, engineering and detailed economic analysis.
The Company expects that the Gramalote joint venture will continue to advance resettlement programs, establish coexistence programs for small miners, work on health, safety and environmental projects and will continue to work with government and local communities on social programs. B2Gold, as manager, plans to continue the feasibility work into 2020 with the goal of completing a final feasibility study by December 31, 2020. Due to the extensive testing programs that have been completed and the high level of engineering performed in 2017 for an internal pre-feasibility study, the engineering work remaining to get to final feasibility is not extensive. The main work program for feasibility is infill drilling to confirm and upgrade the Inferred Mineral Resources to Indicated status.
The Gramalote Project is located 230 kilometres (“km”) northwest of Bogota and 80 km northeast of Medellin in central Colombia. Based on the recent remodeling of the Gramalote geologic resource, the Company believes that the Gramalote Project has the potential, subject to completion of infill drilling scheduled to commence in November 2019 and a final feasibility study expected by the end of 2020, to become a large low-cost open pit gold mine. The Gramalote Project has several key infrastructure advantages, including:
- Reliable water supply – high rainfall region
- Adjacent to a national highway, which connects to a major river and seaports
- Proximity to the national electricity grid with ample low-cost power and stable record of hydroelectric power
- Technically capable workforce within Colombia
The Environmental Impact Study and Project Implementation Plans for the Gramalote Project have been fully approved by the National Authority of Environmental Licenses of Colombia. Due to the desired modifications to the processing plant and infrastructure locations, a Modified Environment Impact Study and a Modified Project Implementation plan were submitted and are currently in the final approval process. If the final economics of the feasibility study are positive and the joint venture makes the decision to develop Gramalote as an open-pit gold mine, B2Gold would utilize its proven internal mine construction team to build the mine and mill facilities.
Tom Garagan, Senior Vice President of Exploration for B2Gold, has acted as the qualified person as defined in National Instrument 43-101 for this disclosure and supervised the preparation of the technical information in this news release.