Africa is becoming a major source of precious metal supply. Successes in this context have been reported in Zimbabwe. In 2021, a record volume of production was achieved in the country. Caledonia Mining Corporation highly appreciates the investment attractiveness of the gold mining sector in the country. Steve Curtis, CEO of Caledonia Mining Corporation, noted that Zimbabwe has the necessary resources to support investment and expansion of production, including qualified personnel, as well as large deposits of precious metals. The company owns a gold mining mine in Zimbabwe called Blanket, one of five similar businesses in the country, and is also engaged in several exploration projects.
In 2021, 67.5 thousand ounces of gold were mined at the Blanket mine. The last 12 months have marked a turning point for the company thanks to the commissioning of the Central Shaft project, aimed at deepening the mine. The project cost was approximately $67 million. Financing was carried out through internal cash flow. The new production facilities were put into operation in the 1st quarter of 2021. The implementation of the project was a profitable investment for the company and brought additional profit.
Curtis added that strong operating performance is also a result of effective cost control, which brought gross profit for 2021 to $54.1 million, 16% higher than in 2020. Now that the Central Shaft project has been commissioned, the company expects a further increase in production volumes. The forecast for production in physical terms for 2022 is from 73 thousand to 80 thousand ounces of gold, and from 2023 - 80 thousand ounces, which is 8% higher than in 2020. Now the company's primary strategic task is to complete the remaining underground work related to the Central Wall project, which is expected to increase gold production, reduce operating costs and contribute to further exploration and development at depth.
Curtis noted that the company is building a 12 MW AC solar power plant that will supply approximately 27% of the electricity needed for production. This innovation will improve the quality and safety of the power supply of Blanket and reduce the environmental impact.