Oliver Kazunga recently in Harare
CALEDONIA Mining Corporation has increased its focused project support on investments at its flagship Gwanda-based Blanket Gold Mine to achieve the ambitious 80 000 ounces annually beginning this year and beyond.
The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange-listed operator attained a record high of 67 476oz last year, which was above the group’s revised increased guidance of 67 000oz.
Latest annual output figures that also reflect a 17 percent improvement from the 2020 production levels are on the back of the commissioning of a US$67 million Central Shaft project at Blanket.
Speaking during a media briefing in Harare Tuesday, the group’s chief financial officer, Mr Mark Learmonth, said it was in this context that the mining investor was now focused on investment projects such as the 18MW solar power project and underground exploration activities at Blanket.
“We have embarked on the first phase of the solar project as a long-term solution to address the power challenges because Zimbabwe doesn’t provide enough power to meet our needs,” he said.
“The project will provide 27 percent of Blanket’s average daily usage and that should come on stream soon.”
In the past Blanket Mine has had to resort to the use of the expensive diesel-powered generator to augment power supplies.
The mining group is optimistic that through the Central Shaft project, Blanket Mine would be able to undertake more underground exploration activities and extend the operation’s life span.
With a production guidance of 80 000oz per year, Blanket Mine is projected to run until 2034.
“We have got a strategy focused on our operating journey with returns to our shareholders that’s based on the Central Shaft,” said Mr Learmonth.
“We are going to increase production. Last year we got 67 000oz, this year we are looking to do 80 000oz and with more exploration, we will find more material with depth, possibly more material shallower and we are hopeful that can either increase production rate and or extend mine life beyond 2034, but how far we just don’t know.”
The mining executive said in the last couple of years, Zimbabwe was under-explored despite the abound mineral resource base.
“We also spent a lot of time around the world in Europe, Switzerland and London trying to educate investors about the attractions of being gold producers in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Last November, Caledonia acquired mining claims called Maligreen in the Midlands province worth US$4 million.
“Currently, we are busy increasing confidence level of that resource with a view to commercialise it as soon as possible,” said Mr Learmonth.
In addition, he said the mining group has over the past eight years demonstrated commitment to return money by way of dividends to shareholders with the dividend payment increasing on quarter-on-quarter basis.