The gold production from the Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe and the Bilboes oxides project in Zimbabwe for the quarter ended March 31st, 2023. Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc declared this.
All production numbers have been expressed on a 100% basis and are based on the final assay at the refiners.
At the Blanket Mine, quarterly gold production was around 16,036 ounces, 13% lower than the 18,515 ounces produced in the first quarter of 2022. Production was lower compared to 2022 due to numerous individually unimportant mechanical breakdowns and logistical problems, which have been resolved and production in the early part of April 2023 has been better compared to what was anticipated.
The management has re-iterated the production guidance for Blanket for the year to December 31st, 2023 of between 75,000 and 80,000 ounces of gold.
Bilboes started producing gold from oxides derived from pre-stripping works in the last few days of the Quarter, producing 105 ounces of gold. The beginning of oxide production at Bilboes has been slower than expected, having been adversely impacted by mechanical breakdowns, inconsistent grades, and the poor availability of spare parts and alternative equipment.
As emphasized in the production guidance dated January 13th, 2023, the on-mine cost/oz of Bilboes oxide production was expected to be $1,200-1,320 and is hence a comparatively low margin activity which is mainly justified by the parallel advantage of pre-stripping in anticipation of the growth of the Bilboes sulfide project.
The company has been reviewing the initial proof of this activity and provided some of the initial challenges and comparisons to the more significant sulfide project, for which a possibility study has been updated.
The company will report actual production obtained each quarter at the oxides project as part of the pre-stripping activities. Accordingly, it has reserved guidance on low-margin oxide production.
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.
Mark Learmonth, Chief Executive Officer, Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc
Learmonth added, “The small-scale low margin oxide operation at Bilboes is effectively a pre-stripping exercise for the larger sulfide project in respect of which we have commenced work on an updated feasibility study.
The oxide project was adversely affected by the breakdown of contractor-provided drill-rigs which are used for evaluation drilling and the limited availability in Zimbabwe of spare parts or alternative equipment. In light of the foregoing, we reiterate production guidance for 2023 of between 75,000 and 80,000 ounces of gold from Blanket,” continued Learmonth.