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B2Gold books record gold output, sales in FY'18, outlines FY'19 forecast

B2Gold Corp.'s consolidated gold production for 2018 reached a record 953,504 ounces, near the top end of its revised guidance and up 51% on a yearly basis.

In July 2018, the company increased its full-year production forecast to between 920,000 and 960,000 ounces, from 910,000 to 950,000 ounces previously.

The company's fourth-quarter gold output, meanwhile, slipped to 231,687 ounces from 240,753 ounces in the same year-ago period.

The results were driven by the first full year of production at the Fekola mine in Mali, and strong performances at the Masbate mine in the Philippines and the Otjikoto mine in Namibia, offsetting output shortfalls at the La Libertad and El Limon mines in Nicaragua due to political instability in the country.

Fekola exceeded the upper limit of its increased guidance range of between 420,000 and 430,000 ounces, yielding 439,068 ounces in 2018 and 105,280 ounces in the fourth quarter.

Full-year consolidated gold revenue surged 92% to a record US$1.2 billion on sales of 970,409 ounces at an average price of US$1,262 per ounce. In 2017, revenue came in at US$639 million on sales of 510,966 ounces at an average price of US$1,250/oz.

In the fourth quarter, gold revenue totaled US$272 million on sales of 221,307 ounces at an average price of US$1,230/oz. In the same three-month period of 2017, gold revenue was US$174 million on sales of 137,695 ounces at an average price of US$1,264/oz.

B2Gold expects its consolidated gold output to range between 935,000 and 975,000 ounces in 2019. Consolidated cash costs are projected to remain low this year, with cash operating costs expected to range from US$520/oz to US$560/oz and all-in sustaining costs to come in at between US$835/oz and US$875/oz.

Assuming a gold price of US$1,250/oz, the company expects to generate around US$360 million in cash flow from operations this year.

Additionally, the gold miner said Jan. 16 that it plans to focus on organic growth in 2019 via the expansion potential at existing mines and at its exploration and development projects.

B2Gold will pursue aggressive exploration with a budget of around US$43 million, focusing mainly on West Africa and around existing mines. The company also allocated around US$7 million for other grassroots exploration programs.