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Caledonia Mining books US$21.5mln in gross profits for 2018 as expansion work continues

Caledonia owns a 49% direct interest in the Blanket mine but is looking to acquire a further 15%
Caledonia Mining books US$21.5mln in gross profits for 2018 as expansion work continues
Gold production from Blanket is expected to increase significantly in the coming years

Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL)(TSE:CAL) produced 54,511 ounces of gold from its Blanket mine in Zimbabwe during the 12 months to December 2018.

That was down slightly on the 56,133 ounces produced in 2017, as grades were somewhat weaker.

READ: “Genuine attempt to open up Zimbabwe for business”: Caledonia Mining takes near-term hit against backdrop of improving outlook

The same dynamic caused mine costs to rise from US$633 per ounce to US$690.

But all-in sustaining costs were significantly better at US$802 per ounce against US$847 in 2017 as the benefits of the now-discontinued Export Credit Incentive kicked in.

The effect of all that was a reduction in gross profits to US$21.5mln from US$26mln in 2017.

Net cash at year end was just over US$11mln, as spending continued on a mine expansion programme designed to take yearly production over the 80,000 ounces mark.

"Blanket delivered a robust performance, despite the well-known challenges of operating in Zimbabwe,” said chief executive Steve Curtis.

“We made good progress on the Central Shaft, which I expect to be operational in approximately 15 months and we continued our track record of growing the resource base at Blanket. Production for the Year was lower than in 2017 primarily due to an unplanned lower recovered grade as a result of added dilution due to the adoption of long-hole stoping in certain areas for safety reasons.”

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