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Blanket Mine to commission Central Shaft

By Oliver Kazunga

Gwanda-based gold mining firm, Blanket Mine, is set to commission its Central Shaft this quarter, adding impetus to the company’s production target of between 61 000 and 67 000 ounces this year.

Blanket Mine workers process gold
Blanket Mine workers process gold

Caledonia Mining Corporation, which owns Blanket Mine completed the Central Shaft sinking programme in July 2019.

Equipping of the shaft has been slower than anticipated due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The New York Stock Exchange and Aim-listed mining group, said:
“Central Shaft is scheduled to be commissioned during the first quarter of 2021.

“Targets production of 61 000 to 67 000oz of gold in 2021; targets production of 80 000oz of gold per annum from 2022.”

Meanwhile, Caledonia has declared an increased quarterly dividend payment of US$0,11 on each of the company’s shares.

The mining group said the review is a 10 percent increase from the previous quarterly dividend of 10 cents that was paid in October 2020.

Caledonia said increased production, a high gold price and good cost control have continued to result in improved cash generation which has given the board confidence that the business can sustain a higher level of dividend distributions before the benefits of Central Shaft are realised.

The mining group’s chief executive officer Mr Steve Curtis said:
“We are pleased to announce an additional 10 percent increase in our quarterly dividend, the fourth increase in the past 15 months representing a cumulative 60 percent rise in the dividend since the first increase in October 2019.

“The decision by the board to increase the dividend reflects our continued and increasing confidence in the outlook for our business.

“As we reported in our third quarter 2020 results, the business continues to perform well supported by strong production and a firm gold price.”

He said as they approach the end of the six-year investment programme at Blanket Mine, his organisation expects the combination of rising production and declining capital investment over the next two years will give them the scope to consider further increases in the dividend.

This, Mr Curtis said, is in addition to providing funding for investment in new projects including the exploration prospects at Glen Hume and Connemara North in the Midlands province.

Last month, Caledonia announced that it had entered into an option agreement over Glen Hume and Connemara North, giving the mining group exclusive rights to explore and subsequently, if exploration is successful and at its sole discretion, acquire the mining claims. The Chronicle

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