Enacy Mapakame-Business Reporter
Blanket Mine’s parent company, a Gwanda-based gold miner owned by Caledonia Mining Corporation, registered a 40 percent jump in gold production in the first quarter to March 31, 2022, compared to the same period last year.
Jersey head-quartered Caledonia said 18 515 ounces of gold were produced during the quarter under review compared to 13,197 ounces in the comparable prior year period.
The group attributed the increase to higher tonnes milled, improved grades and better metallurgical recoveries.
According to the group, 6 797 ounces of gold were produced in April 2022, which is an annualised production rate of approximately 81 500 ounces.
“The first quarter of 2022 was an excellent start to 2022. Gold production in the quarter represents a new production record for any first quarter. Production in April showed a further improvement: production of almost 6 800 ounces in the month reflects an annualised production rate that is marginally above the top end of our guidance range for 2022 of 73 000 to 80 000 ounces of gold.
“The higher production reflects increased tonnes milled, better grade and improved recovery. Production in the quarter excludes approximately 1 500 ounces of recoverable gold contained in an ore stockpile, which accumulated during the quarter as we await the commissioning of an additional mill later in the year,” said Caledonia chief executive officer Mr Steve Curtis in a quarterly update.
In terms of financial performance, gross revenues of US$35,1 million were realised, which was 36 percent above the same period last year, reflective of a 40 percent increase in production and a 6 percent increase in the realised gold price.
Revenues include the sale proceeds of 442 ounces (net) of gold in work-in-progress.
“Following Caledonia’s successful secondary listing on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange in late 2021, we have increased the proportion of revenues received in US dollars. This, in conjunction with other arrangements, means that we are not accumulating excessive local currency balances,” said Mr Curtis.
Earnings before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 50 percent to US$14,6 million from US$9,7 million in the same period last year.
On-mine cost of US$698 per ounce was lower than US$836 per ounce recorded during the prior year comparable period primarily due to higher production, which means that fixed costs were spread across more ounces, improved grade and reduced use of diesel generators.
Adjusted earnings per share came in at 62,5 US cents from 51,6 US cents. Net cash from operating activities surged to US$10,2 million compared to US$2 million during the comparable prior year period.
Management remains upbeat of maintaining production guidance for the year on enhanced production efficiencies, while the group also continues assessing opportunities in line with becoming a multi-asset gold producer. Said Mr Curtis: “We are confident we will achieve our production guidance for 2022 of 73 000 to 80 000 ounces
“We continue to evaluate further investment opportunities in the gold sector in Zimbabwe, with our long-term vision of becoming a mid-tier, multi-asset gold producer.”
The resources group declared a dividend of 14 US cents per share for the quarter, an increase from US11 cents declared during the same period last year.