Although B2Gold has been around for less than a decade, its foundations extend back to the late 1970s and its pedigree includes several highly successful mining companies. Clive Johnson, B2Gold president, CEO and founder, was also a founder of Bema Industries, which later became Bema Gold.
Bema Industries started in Vancouver in the mid 1970s as an exploration contracting company. In the early 1980s the Bema Group launched three public exploration companies that merged to form Bema Gold in 1989.
As Bema Gold grew, it expanded to add mine building and mine operations to its exploration capabilities.
“The vast majority of exploration companies do not produce gold, and they shouldn’t,” says Clive Johnson. “It takes a different set of skills to become a builder and a producer. Producers don’t tend to be good at exploration, but we wanted to be both. So we grew Bema Gold from a small company to a producer.”
That growth resulted in Bema Gold being bought by Kinross Gold Corporation in 2007 for $3.5 billion. Johnson and many of the former Bema Gold team decided they wanted to build another successful gold producer, so B2Gold was formed. Much like its predecessor, B2Gold has been highly successful, with exploration and developing and operating mines around the world, including the La Libertad and Limon mines in Nicaragua; the Masbate mine in Philippines; Otjikoto in Namibia; and the Fekola project in Mali.
Among the keys to B2Gold’s success are a focus on accountability and the ability to execute the entire mining process from exploration to production. Because they build their own mines, they ensure mines are completed on time and on budget.
“Many companies use consultants to do their due diligence,” Johnson says. “We have a tremendous technical team of engineers and geologists. We do our own due diligence, because of our experienced team and our belief in accountability. We also have a highly successful exploration team.”
B2Gold’s accountability extends to the people of the regions they mine. When the Otjikoto mine in Namibia was built, B2Gold trained over a thousand Namibians. Johnson says the industry maxim is that for every one job created in mining, eight other jobs in the region are also created. With 5,000 employees around the world, B2Gold is making a significant difference in the countries it operates in.
“Our culture is one of fairness, respect and transparency,” Johnson says. “We care very much about the communities we operate in. Mining should be win-win for everyone involved. Because of that attitude, we’ve won awards in many countries for our programs.
In Namibia in 2014, we won the top business enterprise for the year award and the top environmental company award.”
Even though times are difficult in the industry, Johnson says B2Gold has managed to continue its dramatic growth because the company has made accretive acquisitions and had exploration success. With the recent commencement of production at the Otjikoto Mine in Namibia, and the completion of construction of the Fekola Mine in Mali, projected for late 2017, B2Gold’s production is projected to grow from approximately 385,000 ounces of gold in 2014 to approximately 1 million ounces in 2018. These low-cost mines will result in a significant decline in the company’s cost to produce gold.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Johnson says.
We care very much about the communities we operate in. Mining should be win-win for everyone involved. Because of that attitude, we’ve won awards in many countries for our programs.
“We continue to grow with the same core values. It’s rewarding to see what we can do when we treat people with respect. If you do good things, have good projects and are disciplined, you can create value for your shareholders. But being disciplined doesn’t mean treating people poorly. We want our employees around the world to be happy to be part of B2Gold.”