Caledonia Mining Corporation has released of quarterly gold output, having Gwanda-based Blanket Mine jump 40% to 18 515 ounces in the first quarter to March 31 2021 compared to 13 197 ounces produced in the previous quarter driven by continuous capital investments.
Group chief executive, Steve Curtis, in a production update said the output was a first quarter record performance given the period is usually affected by the rains.
“During this quarter we have set a new first quarter production record and 18 515 ounces is ahead of our expectations and reflects the increased capacity at Central Shaft. The 18 515 ounces is ahead of our expectations and reflects the increased capacity at Central Shaft … we are on track to meet our annual production target,” said Mr Steve Curtis.
Gold production for 2022 was expected to be between 73 000 to 80 000 ounces. Mr Curtis said the ramp-up of production towards the quarterly target of 20 000 ounces meant that the group was on track to meet annual production targets. However, during the period, the Group witnessed a fatal accident that resulted in the death of a Blanket employee.
Caledonia became the third listing on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) where it listed by way of introduction of depository receipts as Caledonia’s shares cannot be directly traded in Zimbabwe, due to some limitations on the New York Stock Exchange where they are also listed
In its previous quarter, the company said it continued to evaluate further investment opportunities in Zimbabwe’s gold sector to transform the Company into a mid-tier, multi-asset Zimbabwe-focused gold producer. The group indicated the last 12 months have marked a turning point for the business and the central shaft has been a huge project costing approximately US$67 million, all funded through internal cash flow and was commissioned in the first quarter of 2021. In the year to December 2021, production reached 67 476 ounces, which was above the top end of the guidance range and was a new record for annual production.
To improve the quality and security of Blanket’s electricity supply, minimise environmental footprint and help create a more sustainable future for the business, Caledonia has started constructing the first phase of a 12 MWac solar plant that will provide approximately 27 per cent of the average daily electricity demand at Blanket Mine.
According to Mr Curtis, the project, which is expected to yield a modest return to shareholders, is expected to be completed in mid-2022. During the year under review, Caledonia acquired the mining claims at Maligreen in the Zimbabwe Midlands which is estimated to host a NI 43-101 compliant inferred mineral resource of approximately 940 000 ounces of gold in 15,6 million tonnes at a grade of 1,88g/t.
Mr Curtis said the immediate focus on this asset is to improve the confidence level of the existing resource base and the company is currently re-assaying historic drill cores. The Government is targeting 100 tonnes of gold per year by 2023, a milestone expected to grow the mining sector exports to US$12 billion annually from US$2,7 billion in 2017. The multi-billion-dollar industry will be driven by gold, platinum, diamond, chrome, iron ore, coal, lithium, and other minerals.