B2Gold announces that an employee at the Fekola exploration camp, located approximately five kilometres from the Fekola mine site, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Fekola Mine, owned by the Company (80%) and the State of Mali (20%), is located in southwestern Mali on the border between Mali and Senegal, about 210 km south of Kayes and approximately 40 km south of the city of Kéniéba. As the positive case occurred in the exploration camp, some distance from the main Fekola mine site, operations have not been impacted to date and the mine continues to operate at full capacity. B2Gold places the safety and wellbeing of its workforce as the highest priority and continues to monitor public and employee sentiment to ensure that stakeholders are in alignment with the continued operations at its mines.
The employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on April 15, 2020, after starting to experience cold-like symptoms onApril 12, 2020 and was immediately isolated at the Fekola exploration camp. The individual remains in quarantine at the camp and is being monitored by Company doctors and the local Kéniéba Health Authority. The employee is currently in stable condition with only moderate symptoms.
As a first measure of response, the Company immediately isolated the entire Exploration Group within the Fekola exploration camp and completed contact-tracing for anyone the individual may have come into contact with on site or within the community. All individuals identified by the contact-tracing residing outside of the Fekola exploration camp were also immediately placed into quarantine. In addition, the Fekola exploration camp is being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, a process which is also being continued at the Fekola mine camp, which to date does not have any positive COVID-19 cases.
Since the declaration of COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic, the Fekola Mine has proactively implemented measures to contain the spread of the virus at the mine site. These measures include the restricted movement of people and goods (to include restriction of personnel from outside ofMali and prohibiting travel between the capital city (Bamako) and site); increased hygiene and cleanliness; social distancing and remote working; isolation procedures at site in the event of higher risk personnel arriving to site (mandatory quarantine period); working with the surrounding communities and developing contingency plans for potential disruptions including increases of supplies. As part of these contingency plans, the Fekola Mine had commenced a full isolation of all staff on site (to be completed by April 19, 2020) related to operations. This will further improve social distancing measures and continue to protect all stakeholders in the area of Mali where the Company operates. All these measures were put in place in close consultation with the government, the Fekola mine workers union, the communities near the mine and the employees operating on site.
B2Gold will continue to update its plan and response measures based on the safety and wellbeing of its workforce, the severity of the pandemic in areas where it operates, global response measures, government restrictions and extensive community consultation. The Company is working closely with national and local authorities and will be monitoring each site’s situation closely while ensuring the safe operation of its mines.