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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Goose gold mine development on track

B2Gold remains on pace for first Canadian gold in early 2025 North of 60 Mining News - September 18, 2023


Last updated 9/18/2023 at 11:55am

Aerial view of the development progress at the Goose Mine site as of September.

B2Gold Corp.

B2Gold has expanded the camp to accommodate 310 additional workers and has begun erecting the steel for the mill and other buildings needed to begin gold production at the Goose Mine in Nunavut by early 2025.

Upon the April completion of its buyout of Sabina Gold & Silver Corp., B2Gold Corp. hit the ground running at its new Back River gold property in Nunavut and remains on pace to pour its first gold there early in 2025.

The most advanced project on the district-scale Back River property is Goose, a mine development project that is slated to produce 3.34 million oz of gold over 15 years of mining 18.7 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 5.97 grams per metric ton (3.6 million oz) gold.

This will mark the first Canadian mine for B2Gold, which has gold operations in Mali, Namibia, and the Philippines, as well as exploration and development assets in Mali, Colombia, Finland, and Uzbekistan.

"We are excited to add such a high-quality, high grade gold project in a top mining jurisdiction to our global portfolio, and we are thrilled to welcome the exceptional Sabina team into B2Gold," B2Gold President and CEO Clive Johnson said upon the closing of the C$1.1 billion (US$820 million) acquisition of Sabina.

Now, the company is investing C$800 million (US$593 million) to finish development of the Goose Mine, plus C$90 million (US$66.7 million) to accelerate underground development to increase average gold production in the first five years to over 300,000 oz per year.

At the same time, the new Back River owner has completed more than 11,000 meters of resource upgrade, expansion, and exploration drilling across the gold-enriched Nunavut property.

Making room for development

At the top of B2Gold's agenda for Back River was to make room for the manpower and materials needed for full-scale development of the Goose gold mine.

In preparation for the arrival of 70,000 meters cubed of dry cargo and 24 million liters (6.3 million gallons) of arctic-grade diesel during the 2023 shipping season, B2Gold immediately began reorganizing and enlarging the marine laydown area on Bathurst Inlet north of Goose.

The company says the first two ships and three barges loaded with supplies have arrived at the laydown area, and four additional ships are expected before the arctic ice returns.

The supplies arriving this summer will be transported to the mine site this winter via an ice road.

This ability to access Back River via barge to the Bathurst Inlet port and then over a 163-kilometer (101 miles) ice road offers the lowest cost delivery of the equipment, fuel and supplies needed to support predevelopment activities at the Goose Mine.

In 2023, more than 800 loads were completed along the ice road. With even more deliveries to make this year, B2Gold will begin construction at the middle of the road going toward the port and mine, a strategy aimed at completing the ice road earlier than in previous years.

In addition to making room for more supplies, the company has expanded the camp to accommodate nearly 500 workers at the Goose Mine site.

Phase one of the expanded camp, which opened in July, includes sleeping quarters for 310 workers, an office area, medical center, gymnasium, kitchens, and water treatment. Together with the 160 beds located at the existing exploration camp, this expansion provides the necessary accommodations to support accelerated construction, mining, and exploration activities to ensure the Goose Mine is pouring gold by early 2025.

Pouring concrete, raising steel

Toward achieving its first gold target, concrete and steel works in the mill area are progressing ahead of schedule.

The first concrete was poured in July, and by the end of August, approximately 30% of the 2023 concrete foundations and pads were completed within the mill area, powerhouse, and shop.

More than 2 million kilograms (4.4 million pounds) of structural steel and approximately 500,000 kg (1.1 million lb) of plate steel have already been delivered and are being erected at the Goose Mine site. Enclosure of the mill building, powerhouse, and shop will allow for work to continue through the colder months.

With the concrete and steel work being completed this year, it is expected that the ball mill will be set in place in December, which is ahead of schedule.

To ready ore for the mill being set later this year, mine development is progressing at the Echo open pit, which will be mined out prior to process plant commissioning in order to provide tailings storage capacity.

At the same time, underground mining has exceeded 1,300 meters of horizontal development, and the initial ventilation raise is expected to be completed in October.

Underground mining is scheduled to mine and backfill the full Umwelt pillar earlier than in prior mine plans, which is expected to contribute over 150,000 oz of gold production to the life-of-mine plan. The underground development is currently less than 500 meters away from commencing ore production at the Umwelt crown pillar.

Exploring Back River

As the Goose Mine development progresses, B2Gold is investing US$20 million (C$27 million) into a 2023 exploration campaign that includes 27,000 meters of drilling in and around existing deposits at Goose, as well as following up on regional targets identified at the George, Boulder, Boot and Del projects.

At the time of B2Gold's acquisition, the Back River property hosted 33.45 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 5.88 g/t (6.2 million oz) gold and 13.74 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 6.44 g/t (2.9 million oz) gold.

"As we continue with the construction of the Goose project and move toward commencement of production in 2025, our exploration program will also start immediately," Johnson said in April. "We aim to further define the Back River Gold District's untapped potential and unlock the significant value we see and opportunities for growth."

By the end of August, 5,000 meters of drilling had been completed in 18 holes at Goose.

The drilling at Goose is focused on collecting metallurgical samples for reagent optimization; test down-plunge expansion targets at the Umwelt and Llama deposits, and test regional targets surrounding the current resources.

The frame of a large steel building being erected at the Goose Mine in Nunavut.

B2Gold Corp.

The frame of the Goose Mine mill building is largely complete, and the mill is expected to be set by the end of the year.

The drill program at the Goose Project is expected to last until December 2023.

Further afield, the company has already completed 6,009 meters of drilling in 26 holes at George, the second most advanced project at Back River.

George, which lies about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Goose, hosts 7.1 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 5.34 g/t (1.2 million oz) gold and 5.4 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 6.12 g/t (1.1 million oz) gold.

The 2023 program at George was designed to test several targets over a strike length of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Assay results are still pending for some holes drilled at George due to wildfire-related issues in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which affected logistics and access to the prep lab.

The drill program is slated to run through the end of the year.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 15 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (907) 726-1095


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