HARARE – Gwanda-based gold producer Blanket Gold Mine’s production in the third quarter to September 30, 2018 stood at 13 978 ounces of, which was 10 percent above production in the second quarter of 2018.
Blanket Mine is owned by Canadian miner, Caledonia Mining Corporation which is looking to boost its equity in the mine from the current 49 percent. Earlier in August, Caledonia announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to increase its shareholding in Blanket to 64 percent, subject to the execution of a legally binding sale agreement and regulatory approvals.
The latest production numbers were however 3 percent below production in the third quarter of 2017.
The mine’s gold output for nine (9) months to September 30, 2018 was 39 559 ounces, marginally behind the 39 710 ounces produced in the corresponding period last year.
Management said they expect full year 2018 adjusted earnings to be in the range of 140c to 150c per share, which is a reduction from the previous earnings guidance of 165c to 190c per share but is 3 per cent to 12 per cent higher than the earnings achieved last year.
The improvement in production during the period under review is expected to continue into the fourth quarter, said Caledonia management.
Caledonia Mining Corporation CEO Steve Curtis added that the achieved output is in line with the company’s broader goal to boost gold product over the next three years.
He added that the company has also taken a decision to marginally reduce and narrow the range of 2018 production guidance from 55,000 to 59,000 ounces to a range of between 54,000 and 56,000 ounces.
“Production of 13,978 ounces in the third quarter of 2018 is a welcome improvement on the production levels achieved in the first two quarters of 2018. The Company expects this improvement to be maintained in the fourth quarter of 2018.
“Notwithstanding the improved operating performance, we believe it is appropriate to adjust and tighten our production guidance for 2018 from the previous level of 55 000 to 59 000 ounces to a slightly reduced level of 54 000 to 56 000 ounces,” he said.
“Grade during the quarter continued to be below expected levels and remains a key area of focus for the business. I am pleased with the progress that our technical teams have made with our focus on improved mining practices to minimise dilution and I have confidence that their efforts will continue to deliver results.
“We remain confident in the underlying geological model for Blanket and that the longer-term potential of the ore body is robust. We expect grade to return to budgeted levels in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Caledonia says it remains on track to achieve its production target of 80 000 ounces in 2021.
Blanket’s target production for 2018 is circa 54 000 to 56 000 ounces.