Friday, March 23, 2018
Clive Johnson

Clive Johnson


BOILED down to basics, B2Gold’s fortunes are largely predicated on the successful commissioning of Fekola, its $521m Mali project – a task Clive Johnson’s team delivered with aplomb last year. As a result, full-year production came in at 630,565 oz against a previous target of 570,000 oz. More impressive, however, is the impact of the mine on B2Gold’s output numbers in 2018, which will be 58% higher year-on-year at some 910,000 oz to 950,000 oz. Average cash flow will be $500m for B2Gold over the next three years from 2018. It’s just as well. Lower production elsewhere in the firm’s portfolio has led to a slight under-performance. This has raised the question whether B2Gold ought to be looking at other growth opportunities notwithstanding the impact of Fekola. Johnson’s view is to first establish if Fekola offers any brownfields potential. It might. Drill results in December suggested a northern extension. There’s also regional potential in Mali as well as a new discovery in Burkina Faso. Increasingly, the future of B2Gold is looking African. Otjikoto, its Namibia mine, has expansion potential from its existing pit, as well as underground. Shares in B2Gold nearly matched an all-time high last year and there’s a feel-good factor afoot. This helped B2Gold “upsize” its corporate revolving credit facility in July.


The last year represented a relatively sedate period for Johnson, a former rugby union player, whose fondness for putting cocky analysts in their place is now somewhat storied. He can’t be criticised for holding back – as per his business track record. Johnson established his reputation with Bema Gold, which was bought by Kinross in 2007 for $3.5bn. He then regrouped with former Bema colleagues to establish B2Gold, which embarked on an aggressive acquisition strategy – culminating in the $570m purchase of Papillon Resources in 2014.