B2Gold agrees deal with Mali Govt. for new Menankoto exploration permit

B2GOLD has reached an agreement with the Mali government for a new exploration permit critical to the extension of its Fekola gold mine.

The agreement heads off legal action undertaken by B2Gold’s Malian subsidiary in the International Court of Arbitration.

The matter arose in March after B2Gold was denied a one-year extension to explore Menankoto, a property that with Bantako North comprises the Anaconda area. It appears as if a third party was granted the exploration permit.

B2Gold said today the Bankako North permit area could host a pit providing ore for at least 1.5 to two years feed to Fekola starting in the second half of 2022.

The new Menankoto Permit will be issued in compliance with Mali’s 2019 mining code (the previous permit was issued under the 2012 mining code) providing for an initial term of three years and renewable for two additional three-year periods. The permit would be issued before the end of the year, the company added.

“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,” said B2Gold.

Fekola is expected to produce 560,000 to 570,000 ounces of gold in B2Gold’s 2021 financial year and comprises roughly half of the Toronto-listed firm’s annual gold output.