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Caledonia hit by disappointment over Bilboes oxide mine operating losses


Nov 14, 2023

By ETimes

HARARE – Gold producer Caledonia Mining says the Bilboes oxide operation has been a letdown and has been placed back into care and maintenance owing to operating losses.

In the past, a small amount of open-pit mining has taken place at the expansive, high-grade gold deposit known as Bilboes, which is situated around 75 km north of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

With the help of its local subsidiary Bilboes Holdings, Caledonia Mining successfully acquired Bilboes Gold, the owner of the Bilboes gold property in Zimbabwe, early this year.

At the Bilboes Oxide Mine, mining and metallurgical processing proceeded until the end of September.

After that, the operation switched back to care and maintenance, which resulted in a significant monthly cost depreciation from around US$1 million to about US$200,000.

“The Bilboes oxide mine has been a disappointment and as a result of operating losses incurred at Bilboes it has been returned to care and maintenance with effect from 1 October; from October onwards, the monthly holding cost of Bilboes is expected to be significantly reduced to approximately US$200,000 per month,” Mark Learmonth, Caledonia Mining chief executive officer, said in a statement accompanying the results for the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2023.

“In due course, the remaining oxide material will be mined and processed alongside the sulphide ore. This outcome has no bearing on the viability of the much larger sulphide project which was the reason for acquiring Bilboes.”

With 26.64 million tonnes of proved and probable mineral reserves containing 1.96 million ounces of gold at a grade of 2.29g/t, the project satisfies NI43-101 requirements.

The Bilboes oxide mine produced 1,151 ounces of gold during the quarter, which is an increase above the 1,076 ounces produced during the second quarter of 2023.

For the rest of 2023, material that has already been put on the leach pad will continue to leach.


Caledonia Mining’s consolidated on-mine cost per ounce for the quarter stood at US$928 compared to US$734 per ounce in Q3 2022.

The high cost per ounce at the Bilboes oxide mine—which has since been put on care and maintenance—was the primary cause of the hike.

The group’s revenues for Q3 2023 amounted to US$41.2 million, a record quarterly performance for the group. Nine months’ revenue of US$107.7 million, the miner said “is in line with the prior year performance”.

By ETimes

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