Miner B2Gold says Mali border shutdown to be short-lived after coup

TORONTO (Reuters) - Miner B2Gold Corp expects the shutdown of land and air borders in Mali to last “days or weeks, not months,” its chief executive said on Thursday, after Tuesday’s overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

“The intention is to re-open as soon as possible,” B2Gold CEO Clive Johnson told Reuters, citing discussions with government officials.

Keita resigned on Tuesday and dissolved parliament hours after soldiers detained him at gunpoint and seized power in a coup.

The military junta that overthrew the president ordered the country’s borders re-opened on Thursday. But the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)instructed its members to keep their borders with Mali closed in response to Tuesday’s coup.

ECOWAS leaders convened on Thursday after the bloc suspended Mali, closed borders and halted financial flows in response to the crisis.

Border closures threaten to limit miners’ ability to export gold, which is typically flown out of Mali to be refined.

B2Gold and other miners said on Wednesday they were operating as usual.

B2Gold’s flagship Fekola mine produced 147,424 ounces of gold in the second quarter.

Johnson reiterated the miner had sufficient supplies to maintain activities through the end of the third quarter and beyond and could tap ore stockpiles if needed.

“Because of COVID actually we have even larger stockpiles than we normally would have, so we’re in very good shape,” he said.

Reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Dan Grebler