By Anyway Yotamu
New York listed Caledonia Mining Cooperation notched up record production in 2002 and said it expects the current year to be even better as a new heap leach project, Bilboes, starts to contribute.
Gold produced over the year at the Blanket mine in Zimbabwe hit 80,775 ounces, up 20% and ahead of guidance, with the fourth quarter also seeing a record at 21,000oz.
For the current year, Caledonia is forecasting production of between 87,500 and 97,000oz comprising 12,500-17,500 from oxides treatment at Bilboes, also in Zimbabwe, and 75-80,000oz at Blanket.
Cash costs are forecast to be US$900-1,000 per oz, all-in costs US$1,150-1,250 with capital expenditure of US$30,9mln expected.
Caledonia added that Bilboes oxides is a small-scale, two-to-three-year project which entails the stripping of overburden to a depth of approximately 40 metres to expose the oxidised material which will be processed on-site using an existing heap leach facility
Mark Learmonth, chief executive, said that work began on the new central shaft in 2014 with the aim of hitting the 80,000oz production mark and getting there now was ‘a tremendous achievement’.
Production guidance for 2023 assumes that Blanket will broadly maintain the production rate achieved in 2022, he added, while inflationary pressures currently will be offset by efficiencies resulting from the successful implementation of Central Shaft.
“The on-mine cost of the small project at Bilboes reflects the low grade of the oxide material,” he noted.
“The oxides project is not expected to be representative of the much larger sulphide project at Bilboes in terms of grade, production levels or cost profile.”