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Caledonia Mining shares surge on record Q3 production from Blanket

Caledonia Mining (TSE:CAL, LON:CMCL) shares rose more than 12 per cent today after it revealed gold production at the Blanket mine had achieved an "all time high" in the third quarter.

From the mine in Zimbabwe, 12,918 ounces of the yellow metal were produced - 12 per cent higher than the 11,560 ounces generated in the second quarter.

And it was 33 per cent higher than the 9,743 ounces produced in the third quarter last year, the firm told investors.

City broker Canaccord welcomed the update and highlighted that the record operational results and strong cash growth positioned the firm well for the next stage of its growth.

Canaccord analyst Dmitry Kalachev rates the shares a 'buy' with a target price of 16p.

This morning, Caledonia also revealed that production from underground mining at Blanket in the third quarter to September 30 was the highest ever produced since the mine first recorded production in 1906.

It highlighted that increased gold production, further improvements in recoveries and attention to costs reduced average operating costs to US$508 per ounce from US$547 in the last quarter.

Blanket is now one of the lowest cost gold producers in both Africa and the world, it highlighted.

Meanwhile, its financial position continued to improve with almost $25 million of cash on hand.

Analyst Kalachev noted that the firm's cash operating results were an "outstanding" result compared to the firm's peers.

"We calculate total cash costs including royalties were US$620 per ounce, which is substantially below the US$750 per ounce average for London-listed producers," he said in a note.

"This underpins operating cash flow of US$7 million in Q3/12," he noted.

The analyst said that now the indigenisation process is now complete, the new board has refocused on growth and approving a capital investment programme that includes the No.6 Winze development project at the Blanket mine.

This has the potential to increase production by 70 per cent to around 70,000 ounces per annum from 2015, he noted.

"As well as the expansion at Blanket, the company is  progressing with its base metal Nama project (Zambia) with a view to releasing a copper resource estimate by June 2013," he added.

"We think this year’s production target of 40,000 ounces looks conservative, given nine months production of 33,600 ounces," he concluded.

Shares rose today 12.5 per cent, to trade at 7.88p.

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