The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
BLANKET Mine produced quarterly gold production of 21 772 ounces, a new quarterly record for the mine and an increase of three percent on the 21 120 ounces produced in the corresponding quarter of 2022.
The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange-listed mining group, Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc, that owns Blanket Mine in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, revealed this in its update for the quarter and nine months ended 30 September.
In a statement on Tuesday, Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc said the 21 772 ounces was a new quarterly production record.
“This quarter’s results demonstrate a significant improvement in the production performance of Blanket Mine, which reported record quarterly production. This quarter was also the last quarter to be affected by the negative contribution from the Bilboes oxide mine prior to being placed on care and maintenance from 1 October 2023. This will reduce monthly costs from approximately US$1 million to approximately US$200 000 at Bilboes,” read part of the statement.
“21 772 ounces of gold were produced at Blanket in the quarter, three percent higher than the 21 120 ounces produced in Q3 2022 and a new quarterly production record. Gold produced at Blanket in the nine months was 55 244 ounces. Caledonia reiterates its gold production guidance for 2023 of between 75 000 and 80 000 ounces at Blanket.”
The company said revenues in the quarter of US$41.2 million was a record quarterly performance for the group and the nine months’ revenue of US$107.7 million was in line with the prior year performance.
It said the gross profit in the quarter of $14.1 million and the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $15.5 million was 2.5 percent lower than the $15.9 million in the comparative third quarter of 2022.
Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc added: “A dividend of 14 cents per share was paid in July 2023, a further dividend at the same rate of 14 cents per share was paid in October 2023, being the 40th quarterly dividend paid by the company since it began paying dividends in 2013.”
Commenting on the announcement, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), Mr Mark Learmonth said: “Production at Blanket in the quarter was excellent. Blanket is now operating as expected having achieved record gold production in the quarter. Management is exploring initiatives to further improve mining efficiencies and manage operating costs.”
On the Bilboes oxide mine, he said it has been a disappointment and as a result of operating losses incurred at Bilboes and it has been returned to care and maintenance with effect from 1 October.
Mr Learmonth said from October onwards, the monthly holding cost of Bilboes is expected to be significantly reduced to approximately US$200 000 per month, while in due course, the remaining oxide material will be mined and processed alongside the sulphide ore.
On the solar plant which was commissioned in early 2023, he said it continues to operate well, while an offer has been received from a global solar operator to buy the solar plant and the sale process is underway.
Mr Learmonth said as previously announced, encouraging results were received during the quarter from the ongoing underground drilling programme at Blanket which currently targets the Eroica ore body.