Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc (LON:CMCL) has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe under which Caledonia will evaluate mining rights, properties and/or projects in the gold sector that are controlled by the Government with a view to assessing the potential to advance development on these properties or projects.
Caledonia believes Zimbabwe is a highly prospective region for gold discoveries. Caledonia has assessed and continues to assess investment opportunities in the Zimbabwe gold sector that are privately owned. However, the Government of Zimbabwe has a considerable portfolio of assets in the gold sector that are potentially very attractive and Caledonia and the Government have therefore entered into an agreement whereby Caledonia is provided an opportunity to review this portfolio to determine whether they may be commercially developed for mutual benefit.
Commenting on this agreement, Steve Curtis, Caledonia Mining Chief Executive Officer said:
“I am delighted we have reached this agreement which will give Caledonia access to a new and much increased number of potential investment opportunities in the Zimbabwe gold sector. Over the years of operating in Zimbabwe we have established a professional relationship with the appropriate bodies and have a strong performance, social and ethical record. We look forward to applying the same approach to any future opportunities in the country, developing the assets in the same responsible way we have done at Blanket, with any new developments including a local ownership structure and community engagement.”
“The signing of this agreement is very timely: Blanket Mine, Caledonia’s current investment in Zimbabwe, is approaching the end of a multi-year, +$60 million investment in a new shaft. When this project is completed later this year, Blanket’s annual gold production is expected to increase from approximately 55,000 ounces to approximately 80,000 ounces per annum from 2022 onwards. The increased level of production, in conjunction with the higher gold price, means that we should have the financial capacity to consider further meaningful investments in the Zimbabwe gold sector.”
The Hon. Winston Chitando, Minister for Mines and Mine Development, said:
“Since Caledonia purchased Blanket Mine in 2006, it has increased production at Blanket from less than 20,000 ounces of gold per annum and is now poised to increase production to 80,000 ounces per annum. Blanket Mine has more than doubled its employment from less than 800 in 2006 to a current level of approximately 1,650; Blanket is also a major tax-payer in Zimbabwe and we expect this to increase substantially in the next few years. Caledonia is also an outstanding corporate citizen in Zimbabwe, having facilitated local ownership partnerships of Blanket Mine since 2012.
“I am therefore pleased that Caledonia will apply its experience, technical expertise and its financial capacity to evaluate the portfolio of gold assets that are held by the Government. I am confident that Caledonia will make an even larger contribution to the economy of Zimbabwe as a result of further investments in our gold industry.”