La Libertad Mine, Nicaragua (B2Gold 100%)
La Libertad Mine continued its excellent performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, producing a new quarterly record of 30,113 ounces of gold at an operating cash cost of $589 per ounce and a total cash cost of $626 per ounce from 512,603 tonnes of ore milled at an average grade of 1.94 grams per tonne ("g/t") gold. This compares to the budget of 28,763 ounces at an operating cash cost of $564 per ounce.
Gold production in the fourth quarter was higher than budget mainly due to higher throughput tonnage and higher gold recoveries of 94.1% compared to budget of 90.4%. Gold recovery continues to outperform budget as the Company optimizes its plant processes. Ore during the quarter was sourced from the Crimea and Mojon pits (no spent ore was processed in the quarter). The Santa Maria Pit is in development and will start to produce ore in the first quarter of 2013. Mill throughput averaged 5,572 tonnes of ore per day for the quarter.
Per ounce operating cash costs for La Libertad Mine in the fourth quarter were slightly higher than budget mainly due to increases in the cost of labour, fuel, mining contractor and mill reagents, partially offset by higher than budgeted gold production.
During 2012, La Libertad Mine generated gold revenue of $179.6 million from the sale of 107,398 ounces at an average price of $1,672 per ounce, compared to $154.8 million from the sale of 98,797 ounces at an average price of $1,566 per ounce in the same period of 2011. Total gold production was 108,935 ounces at an operating cash cost of $529 per ounce and total cash cost of $564 per ounce from 2,041,415 tonnes of ore milled at an average grade of 1.80 g/t gold. This compares to the budget of 103,493 ounces at an operating cash cost of $557 per ounce. Gold production for the year was higher than budget as a result of higher gold grades (1.80 g/t gold versus budget of 1.77 g/t gold) and higher gold recoveries (92.5% compared to budget of 90.4%). Operating expenses were marginally higher than budget, however, due to increased gold production operating costs per ounce were lower than budget.
The Libertad Mine is projected to produce approximately 131,000 to 137,000 ounces of gold in 2013 at an operating cash cost of approximately $560 to $590 per ounce. Gold production for the first half of 2013 is estimated to total approximately 56,000 to 59,000 ounces of gold at a cash operating cost of approximately $620 to $650 per ounce and for the second half of 2013 approximately 75,000 to 78,000 ounces of gold at a cash operating cost of approximately $515 to $545 per ounce.
Limon Mine, Nicaragua (B2Gold 95%)
The Limon open pit and underground Mine (the "Limon Mine") also had an outstanding quarter, achieving its highest quarterly output since B2Gold completed its business combination with Central Sun Mining Inc. in March 2009. The Limon Mine produced 14,211 ounces of gold during the fourth quarter of 2012 at an operating cash cost of $635 per ounce and a total cash cost of $723 per ounce from 107,034 tonnes of ore milled at an average grade of 4.53 g/t gold at a processed gold recovery of 91.4%. This compared to budget of 15,628 ounces of gold at an operating cash cost of $612 per ounce. Grade from surface operations was less than forecast as more development was required in the Veta Nueva Pit, and as a consequence production was less than budgeted.
During 2012 the Limon Mine recorded its most successful year in the past nine years, producing 48,950 ounces of gold, within 2012 guidance.
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