Caledonia Mining says April better after first-quarter issues

By Anyway Yotamu

HARARE – New York listed Caledonia Mining Corporation says mechanical breakdowns and some logistical issues affected production in 2023’s first quarter, though April so far has been better than expected.

Output from the Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe was 16,036 ounces (oz) in the three months to end March, compared to 18,515oz a year earlier.

Management said the first quarter is often the weakest at Blanket and re-iterated production guidance of between 75,000oz and 80,000oz for the whole of 2023.

Gold production has started at recent acquisition Bilboes, also in Zimbabwe, through the processing of oxides derived from pre-stripping works.

Around 105oz have been produced so far, which is less than expected due to variable grades and mechanical issues, Caledonia said.

On-mine cost/oz of Bilboes oxide production is projected to be low cost at US$1,200-1,320, it added, while the process also gives the benefit of pre-stripping in anticipation of the development of the prospect’s sulphide project,

Mark Learmonth, chief executive, commented: “Gold production at Blanket is usually lower in the first quarter of each year and increases in the following quarters.

“This trend is in evidence this year, albeit production in the first quarter of 2023 was below our target due to a series of issues including equipment failures and logistical issues.

“These issues have been resolved and production to date in April has been higher than expected.

“The small-scale low-margin oxide operation at Bilboes is effectively a pre-stripping exercise for the larger sulphide project in respect of which we have commenced work on an updated feasibility study.”

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