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Caledonia impressed by Blanket Mine performance

By Oliver Kazunga

Caledonia Mining Corporation says it is impressed by the performance of Gwanda-based gold mining company, Blanket Mine, which has recorded a 12,4 percent increase in gold output to 27 732 ounces for the first half ended June 30, 2020.

Blanket Mine workers process gold
Blanket Mine workers process gold

In the relative period last year, the mining concern registered 24 660oz. In a production update for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2020, Caledonia said despite Covid-19 setback, Blanket’s output for the quarter was 13 499 oz compared to 12 712 oz in the comparable period last year.

“A total of 13 499 ounces of gold were produced in the quarter while during the same quarter last year 12,712oz were produced.

“A total of 27 732oz were produced in the first half of 2020 compared to 24 660oz in the first half of 2019,” said the mining group.

Tonnes mined and milled in the quarter under review increased by five percent compared to the same period last year while grade and recoveries also slightly improved. On the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the dual-listed group said the infectious disease had a negligible effect on production in the quarter.

“Production continued at approximately 93 percent of target during the three-week lockdown, which started in Zimbabwe on March 30, 2020. Production subsequently returned to above-normal levels and production for the quarter was only 1,2 percent below target but was above target for the first half of 2020.

“Production guidance for 2020 remains unchanged at 53 000 to 56 000oz,” said Caledonia.

“Progress on the Central Shaft continued, but at a slower pace due to a reduced contractor team.

“If current travel and transport restrictions continue, delays in sourcing specialist contractors and equipment may delay the completion of Central Shaft.”

As part of a corporate social responsibility programme, Blanket has made substantial contributions of more than ZWL$1million to the country’s fight against Covid-19 in addition to incremental production costs of ZWL $509 000, which were directly related to the pandemic.

The mining group said it was on track to achieve on-mine cost guidance for 2020 of between US$693 to US$767 per ounce and all-in sustaining cost guidance of between US$951 to US$1 033 per ounce.

Caledonia’s April dividend of 7,5 cents per share was deferred and was paid in May 2020 when management had ascertained the negligible effect of Covid-19 on operations.

“The July dividend was increased by 13,3 percent to 8,5 cents per share following the continued strong financial and operating performance.

“Further dividends will depend upon, inter alia, Blanket maintaining production while also considering the balance between delivering returns to shareholders and pursuing the significant growth opportunities within Zimbabwe,” said Caledonia.

Commenting on the mining results, Caledonia chief executive officer Mr Steve Curtis said:

“I am delighted by Blanket Mine’s continued strong financial and operating performance in the second quarter of 2020.

“The management initiatives, which were implemented in 2019 have continued into 2020 and have resulted in a 12,4 percent increase in gold production in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019,” said Mr Curtis. The Chronicle