Caledonia Mining Corporation, the owners of Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe, says the mine is still expecting to produce between 53 000 ounces to 56 000 ounces of gold in 2019 despite producing slightly below target for the first quarter to March 31, 2019.
The company also remains on track with progress towards its target of 80 000 ounces by 2022.
Production in the first quarter of 2019 at 11 948 ounces of gold was slightly below the miner’s target and below the comparable quarter in 2018 when it produced 12 924 ounces of gold.
Commenting on the announcement, Steve Curtis, chief executive officer, said the level still allows the miner to maintain its 2019 production guidance of 53 000 to 56 000 ounces for the full year.
Curtis, however, said continued difficulties with unstable electricity supply and grade dilution, which we experienced in 2018, had an adverse effect on production.
“But improved drilling and blasting practices have been put in place in pursuit of improved grade control and I am pleased to say that efforts to minimise dilution are proving successful,” said Curtis.
“Our technical team has worked tirelessly to mitigate the effects of electricity supply interruptions and we continue to work closely with the Zimbabwean Electricity Supply Authority to address these challenges as well as investing internally to improve our resilience to this issue.”
Despite the challenges, the miner has, however, continued with its expansion plans with the sinking of the central shaft continuing according to plan.
“We are now only months away from the completion of the shaft sinking phase of the project and are set to commence shaft equipping from mid-2019.
“We look forward to commencing production from the central shaft from mid-2020, which is expected to deliver the company’s growth plan to achieve 75 000 ounces in 2021 and 80 000 ounces by 2022,” Curtis said.
The slump in production comes at a time the country witnessed an 11 percent decline in gold production in the first quarter of the year.
Deliveries in the first three months of the year totalled 6,5 tonnes down from 7,3 tonnes delivered same time last year.
The decline could dent the state buyer’s 2019 target of a record 40 tonnes, which was set on the back of record breaking deliveries of 33,2 tonnes last year.
Of note, on the first quarter statistics, is the continued dominance of small-scale miners over their primary producer with 64,6 percent of the deliveries having come from the former most of whom rely on rudimentary mining methods.