B2Gold’s Fekola operating normally as Mali president resigns following coup

Fekola gold mine, B2Gold, Mali

B2GOLD said operations had not been interrupted by political turmoil in Mali in which its president had resigned following events described as the country’s second coup in a year.

The Toronto-listed gold producer operates the Fekola mine which is slated to produce 530,000 to 560,000 ounces of gold in 2021. “B2Gold’s mining operations at its Fekola Mine have not been affected in any way and the company has continued normal mining and milling operations,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

B2Gold did not anticipate disruption and added that its employees were safe. The mine employs about 2,200 people of which 93% are Malian nationals. Total investment by B2Gold in Mali totalled $1bn, it said.

A strike by the country’s main workers union –  L’Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Mali – had been ended, the company said. The strike began on May 17 and was part of a long-running standoff with the government over wages. Fekola was unaffected by the strike.

B2Gold also intended to continue discussions regarding the renewal of the Menankoto exploration permit which it believed it was entitled to receive “… under proper application of Malian law”. Its permit application was denied in March.

The prospect is situated about 20 kilometres north of the Fekola Mine licence area in the Anaconda area which B2Gold believes is highly prospective.

Potential reserves and resources in the Menankoto permit were not part of Fekola’s current life of mine or production estimates. Failure to access the property could dent Fekola’s mineral potential.

Mali’s president Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane quit Wednesday while in military detention, said Bloomberg News citing a report by Agence France-Presse. Military Vice President Assimi Goita dismissed the civilian leaders on Tuesday for appointing a new government without consulting him.

The leadership vacuum heightens uncertainty in Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, still reeling from the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August, said Bloomberg News. It threatens to further destabilize a nation that’s a linchpin in an international effort to contain a mushrooming insurgency by Islamist militants in the Sahel region.