B2Gold starts process to cut 550 jobs


B2Gold Namibia has started the process that will see the company cut 300 jobs in 2024 and a further 250 jobs in 2025. The company has about 820 permanent employees. The company has termed the exercise ‘downscaling and retrenchments.’

Eric Barnard, the general manager at the Otjikoto Mine, owned by B2Gold said in response to questions by Observer Money that the process of job cuts is being done in phases so as not to cripple mining operations. The first phase will be voluntary separation, which will be followed by forced retrenchments.

“The retrenchments are across the board, from top to bottom,” he said.

He added that the job cuts programme is being done in conjunction with the Mineworkers Union of Namibia to ensure that all legal processes are followed.

However, some workers like those working in the process plant will not be severely impacted by the retrenchments as the company will be processing gold from stockpiles.

B2Gold Corporation of Canada owns 90% of B2Gold Namibia while local company, EVI Gold Mining owns 10%.

For 2024 the company expects to produce between 180 000 ounces and 200 000 ounces in 2024 and 2025 and just under 100 000 ounces in 2026 and stepping down to sub 50 000 ounces from 2026 through 2031 during the processing of low grade stockpiles.

Barnard said the company is now forecasting on underground mining after the reserves in the open pit mining were exhausted. Production from the underground mining is expected to be much lower at 40 000 ounces per annum.

In the meantime, B2Gold is preparing the workers for retrenchments through counselling, financial literacy and mental health programmes.

The company is also working with the Chamber of Mines of Namibia to see how some of the retrenched workers can be employed by uranium mines and the Osino gold project whose development is expected to start soon.

Figures released by B2Gold Namibia on its contribution to the Namibian economy as of December 2023 showed that gold revenue stood at N$7,6 billion, with gold production at 208 598 ounces, while gold sales stood at 214 800 ounces.

In terms of procurement of goods and services, it stood at N$3,1 billion, with local procurement standing at N$1,9 billion with offshore procurement standing at N$1,2 billion. Barnard said offshore procurement consists of reagents used for processing, spare parts and heavy equipment.

In terms of community investment, the company invested N$23 million in 2023. Country manager John Roos said these investments include construction of a primary school, construction of a clinic and water projects.

In terms of payments to the government, the company paid N$1,5 billion in 2023. This was in the form of corporate tax, N$1,2 billion, royalty tax stood at N$169 million, return to shareholders stood at N$1,8 billion and the export levy paid was N$77,9 million while total wages and benefits stood at N$723 million.

In January, B2Gold announced positive exploration drilling from the Antelope deposit within its mining licence area. The deposit has the potential to be developed as an underground mining operation, which could complement the expected processing of stockpiles at the Otjikoto plant from 2026 through 2031. The 2024 exploration budget is US$9 million, mainly focused on the Antelope deposit.

Opening pit operations at Otjikoto are scheduled to ramp down throughout 2024 and conclude in 2025, while underground mining operations at Wolfshag are expected to continue through 2026.

Processing operations will continue through 2031, when economically viable stockpiles are forecast to be exhausted.

“These positive drill results from the Antelope deposit indicate there is potential for a possible underground development to supplement the processing of stockpiles through 2031, with the goal of increasing Otjikoto gold production levels to over 100 000 ounces per year through 2031,” the company said.

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