Caledonia Mining Corporation’s Blanket mine produced 14,233 ounces of gold in the first three months of 2020, a 19% increase on last year’s corresponding quarter.
The Q1 output follows a record-breaking final quarter of 2019, a year in which the company exceeded its production guidance of 50,000 – 53,000 ounces. Caledonia projects Blanket gold production for 2020 to be between 53,000 and 56,000 ounces.
Although Zimbabwe imposed a 21-day lockdown on March 30 in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, Blanket mine has been allowed to continue its operations, minimising the impact on output.
Caledonia chief executive officer Steve Curtis says the company expects Blanket production to be even across the four quarters of 2020.
“In previous years, gold production was lower in the first quarter of each year and increased in the following quarters. Subject to the mine not experiencing any unforeseen production interruptions associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic, I expect the quarterly production profile to be more evenly balanced throughout 2020 because of the increased focus on development,” Curtis said.
“To begin the year with a strong start, at a time of firm gold prices, has established a strong base which is helpful in withstanding any disruptions that may arise as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
The company has said it has enough cash, critical spares and mining consumables in its inventory to sustain uninterrupted gold production well past the expected duration of lockdowns in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Caledonia expects to complete work on its Central Shaft project to be completed in the final quarter of 2020, pushing gold production to 75,000 ounces next year and 80,000 ounces in 2021.