BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
CALEDONIA Mining Corporation Plc says mineral reserves and resources have increased following a new study at Gwanda-based Blanket Gold Mine, its flagship operation.
In a statement yesterday, Caledonia revealed that total proven and probable mineral reserves increased by 528 000 ounces.
The report validates the company’s medium-term production profile targeting 80 000 ounces per annum from 2022, said Steve Curtis, chief executive officer at the New York-listed resources firm.
He said the development marked a new milestone in the firm’s ambition to grow mineral resources and successfully convert inferred mineral resources into M&I (measured and indicated mineral resources) to keep extending the life of Blanket Mine.
The mine was opened in 1906 and is one of Zimbabwe’s major gold producers.
“A 1% increase in the proven and probable mineral reserves and a 12% increase in M&I after mining depletion of 84 925 ounces is a continuation of securing the long-term future of Blanket,” Curtis said in a market update.
He said a reduction in inferred mineral resources reported during the study was due partly to successful conversion to M&I and lack of deep level exploration over the last 12 months.
The company recently commissioned the flagship Central Shaft, which was completed at a cost of US$67 million and is expected to increase output at the operation.
Curtis said the numbers released yesterday had been independently verified.
“Now that the Central Shaft is completed, we will have the ability to do more deep level exploration and we expect to replace the depleted mineral resources as we continue to go deeper, extending the life of the mine while achieving the 80 000 ounce target from 2022 onwards,” he said.
Caledonia said two weeks ago that output at Blanket was slightly subdued during the first quarter at 13 197 ounces due to heavy rainfall which caused flooding at the mine, resulting in several lost shifts.
The 13 197 ounces were slightly below its target and below the comparable quarter in 2020. The firm said it remained on track to achieve its production guidance of between 61 000 and 67 000 ounces for the full year.
“Production in the first quarter of 2021 was slightly below our target and below the comparable quarter in 2020 albeit at a level which allows us to maintain our 2021 production guidance of 61 000 to 67 000 ounces for the full year,” Curtis said.
“Gold production has often been lower in the first quarter of each year and increases in the following quarters. The rainy season this year saw unprecedented rainfall causing flooding at the mine and resulted in several lost shifts during the period,” he said.
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