It’s possible that Clive Johnson could take on the mantle of long-standing gold industry critic and outsider, Mark Bristow, whose Randgold has joined the sector’s blue-bloods following its merger with Barrick Gold. Johnson does fit the bill: abrasive and outspoken with a solid track-record to support the attitude. Speaking at the Denver Gold Forum, Johnson identified B2Gold as the only company to have performed among a group of serial gold mining under-performers. Johnson’s actual point, however, was to decry M&A (very like Bristow did before the Barrick deal). While he couldn’t quite discount bidding for some mines Barrick Gold didn’t want post the Randgold merger, it’s unlikely B2Gold will really go there. Why would it with Fekola – the glitteringly rich Mali gold mine – in its ranks. Commissioned ahead of schedule and, at $500m, under budget, Fekola has generated a heap of dosh, helping B2Gold repay $259m in convertible notes last year, and reducing overall debt about $200m. A study on the potential expansion of Fekola (and its El Limon mine in Nicaragua) is due in the first quarter of 2019, so there’s a strong argument that Johnson and B2Gold have all the organic growth they need. In August, the government of Mali exercised an option to buy another 10% in Fekola for $47m, to be repaid in dividends. In addition to mines in South America and the Philippines, B2Gold also operates the Ojikoto mine in Namibia, an operation it is also thinking of expanding.
“When we’re ready, on our terms, we will look at M&A again, but not any time soon.”
LIFE OF CLIVE
Johnson established his reputation with Bema Gold which was bought by Kinross in 2007 for C$3.5bn. He then re-grouped with former Bema colleagues to establish B2Gold which embarked on an aggressive acquisition strategy culminating in the $570m purchase of Papillon Resources in 2014. He played rugby union, has South African roots, and occasionally takes a physical approach to critical analysts.
- Web Address: www.b2gold.com