Blanket Mine hits record gold output in 2020

Caledonia gold
Installation of new head gear at Blanket, Jan 2021

Caledonia Mining says its Blanket Mine produced a record 57,899 ounces of gold in 2020, at the top end of the company’s projections for the year.  

Gold production was 15,012 ounces in the final quarter of the year, Caledonia said in an update on Monday. The company had expected output to end 2020 at between 56,000 and 58,000 ounces.

Caledonia expects gold production for 2021 to come in between 61,000 and 67,000 ounces. Output in 2019 was approximately 55,182 ounces.

“Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a record year for Caledonia operationally, and we are on track for commissioning of Central Shaft to be completed in the first quarter of 2021,” said Steve Curtis, chief executive officer of Caledonia.

“In December we also announced that we had entered into option agreements on two properties in Zimbabwe, delivering on our strategy of organic growth, while increasing the dividend for the fourth time at the start of January to 11 cents a share, creating genuine value and returns for our shareholders.”

Blanket Mine’s output growth bucks the trend across the industry. Nationally, gold deliveries in 2020 fell 31% to reach 19.1 tonnes, the lowest haul in six years and well below the year’s targets.

In December, Caledonia completed the equipping of the central shaft at Blanket.

The project entailed deepening the shaft to 1,200 metres in order to access more resources. It was completed “considerably below budget” and is expected to lift annual gold output to 80,000 ounces of gold in 2022.

With that project complete, Caledonia is turning to acquisitions.

The company has recently announced two possible acquisition targets, both of which are in the Gweru area. These are Glen Hume, a 350-hectare claim previously held by New Dawn Mining, and Connemara North, a section of the closed Connemara Mine.

Connemara, once owned by First Quantum Minerals, has been on care and maintenance since 2001. Before it was shut down, the mine produced approximately 20,000 ounces of gold per annum from an open pit heap leach operation.