Modern Mining

Caledonia Mining Corporation, listed on the TSX and NYSE American, says that – following the recent announcement of an updated resource statement – it plans to extend the depth of the Central Shaft at its 49 % subsidiary, the Blanket mine near Gwanda in Zimbabwe.

The Central Shaft (which is currently under construction) will be extended by a further 250 m to a shaft bottom depth of 1 330 m and fully commissioned by the end of the first quarter of 2020. The extension of the Central Shaft will add two further production levels on 34 (1 110 m) and 38 (1 230 m) levels, in addition to the two levels that are already planned on 26 (870 m) and 30 (990 m) levels.

The extension and associated capital development of additional production levels will cost approximately US$18 million, which will be funded by Blanket’s internal cash generation.

Caledonia also reports that it has initiated a mid-shaft loading system at Blanket using the existing Central Shaft infrastructure to handle development waste. This is expected to improve Blanket’s waste handling capacity and alleviate pressure on No 4 shaft which should have a positive effect on both production flexibility and horizontal development.

Commenting on the project update, Caledonia’s CEO, Steve Curtis, said: “We are very pleased that the long track record of sustained resource growth at Blanket, particularly the continued discovery of resources at depth with good grade continuity, supports an extension of the Central Shaft project at Blanket. The Central Shaft is already a transformational project for our business, and to extend the project an additional 250 metres in depth including development on 34 and 38 levels will potentially secure Blanket’s operating future for the next 20 years taking exploration potential into account.

“Based on the strong geological indications of resource and grade continuity at depth, which was supported by our recent resource update, the excellent progress in the current shaft sinking, and most importantly the strong cash generation from Blanket’s current operations, we are now in a position to continue investing for the future.”

He added that it would be significantly cheaper to continue the shaft sinking while in the construction phase of the project rather than to deepen a fully commissioned and operational shaft in several years’ time.

The Central Shaft has been under construction since the first quarter of 2015 and was scheduled to be in production during the fourth quarter of 2018. The shaft is currently at a depth of 950 m below surface and is well advanced towards the previous design depth of 1 080 m below surface.

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