Triple-listed Caledonia Mining has maintained its full-year production guidance for its 49%-owned Blanket mine, in Zimbabwe, despite first-quarter production having been below target.
The Aim-, TSX- and NYSE American-listed company on Tuesday reported that the mine had produced 11 948 oz of gold in the first quarter, compared with the 12 924 oz produced in the first quarter of 2018.
"Production in the first quarter of 2019 was slightly below our target and below the comparable quarter in 2018, albeit at a level which allows us to maintain our 2019 production guidance of 53 000 oz to 56 000 oz for the full year.
"Continued difficulties with unstable electricity supply and grade dilution which we experienced in 2018 had an adverse effect on production, but improved drilling and blasting practices have been put in place in pursuit of improved grade control and I am pleased to say that efforts to minimise dilution are proving successful," CEO Steve Curtis said on Tuesday.
He added that the company's technical team continued to work "tirelessly" to mitigate the effects of electricity supply interruptions, while continuing to work with the Zimbabwean electricity supply authorities to overcome the challenges. Caledonia is also investing funds to improve its resilience amid the supply interruptions.
Curtis also highlighted that the sinking of the central shaft at the mine was progressing according to plan and that it was "only months" away from completing the shaft sinking phase of the project.
Caledonia expects shaft equipping to start in the middle of this year.
"We look forward to commencing production from the central shaft from mid-2020, which is expected to deliver the company's growth plan to achieve 75 000 oz in 2021 and 80 000 oz by 2022," Curtis said.