Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
MATABELELAND South-based gold miner, Blanket Mine is set to increase its lifespan by 20 years following the implementation of its mine development programme announced three years ago.
The mine, which is 49 percent owned by the Toronto Exchange-listed Caledonia Mining Corporation, announced in 2014 a programme to deepen its new shaft to 1 080 metres.
Chief operating officer Mr Dana Roets said: “We announced the deepening or sinking of new shaft in 2014, that shaft is now down to 950 metres below surface. It was to go down to 1 080 metres earning extra two levels of production with a lifespan of extra 10 years.
“We have now decided to take it down to another two production levels which means it will double the lifespan to 20 years.”
Mr Roets said his company was excited about the developments at the mine adding that $10 million was needed to deepen the shaft. For the two production levels to have six kilometres horizontal development, an additional $8 million was required.
This means the development programme at Blanket Mine needs $18 million, which funding Mr Roets said his company’s board has already approved.
“The capacity of the new shaft will be 3 000 tonnes a day of gold ore. Currently, we planned doing 80 000 ounces a year, we will do about 1 800 tonnes of reef and about 400 and 500 tonnes of waste development and opening up new areas so that gives us a capacity of about 7 000 to 8 000 tonnes a day.
“There is potential to increase production if we explore and find more resources because we have not explored below all the known ore bodies above us.
“And if we find as expected that all those bodies do continue to depth, for sure there is opportunity to increase production even more,” he said.
During the third quarter ended September 30, 2017, Blanket Mine produced about 14 389 ounces of gold and this was 15 percent higher than the previous quarter (Q2 2017) and seven percent higher than the corresponding period in 2016. Improved production at the mine is expected to continue into the fourth quarter with Caledonia directors pleased to narrow the range of the 2017 production guidance from 52 000 to 57 000 ounces to range between 54 000oz and 56 000oz.
Caledonia remains on track to achieving its production target of 80 000oz in 2021.
Commenting on recent political developments in Zimbabwe, Caledonia chief executive officer Mr Steve Curtis said they hoped to continue operating in the country under the new political dispensation.