19 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Blanket Mine Board Named

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Deputy Governor Mr Nicholas Ncube has been appointed chairman of Blanket Mine as Caledonia Holdings continues to make moves in compliance with the mine's indigenisation programme. The Gwanda-based gold mine became the first mine in the country to be fully indigenised after the central bank approved its indigenisation transactions last month.

The gold producer received its certificate of compliance from the Government in June this year, after it signed a conditional agreement to sell a 16 percent stake in Blanket Gold Mine to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund for US$11,74 million.

This agreement was in addition to the conditional agreements that had already been signed in accordance with the terms of the February 2012 MoU with the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

Following the completion of indigenisation, 49 percent of Blanket Mine is now owned by Caledonia Mining Corporation while 16 percent is owned by National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board.

Fremio, an investment company that is owned by indigenous Zimbabweans owns 15 percent while Blanket Employee Trust Services limited and the Gwanda Community Share Ownership Trust own 10 percent each.

Caledonia's investor relations and corporate development vice president Mr Mark Learmonth said every shareholder entity in Blanket would have board representation as a result of the appointments.

The new directors that were appointed to the board include Ms Sakhile Masuku who will represent the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, Mr Vijaykumar Naik to represent the Blanket Mine Employee Trust Services and Mr Nkosilamandla Siziba for the Gwanda CSOT.

"As an indigenised entity, Blanket can now proceed to develop and implement its long term growth strategy," he said.

He said the newly constituted Blanket board had approved a capital investment programme for 2013 and a four-year growth strategy for 2014 to 2017.

He added that work on the new underground development No.6 Winze project at the mine had commenced.

The project is expected to result in a 70 percent increase in ore production from 2015.

"This programme, together with the GG and Mascot project will be funded from Blanket's internally generated cash and are expected to result in progressive increases in gold production over the next year," Mr Naik said.

Mr Naik reiterated that Blanket would be well positioned to implement its growth strategy following the implementation of the indigenisation process. He also noted that work was still underway at the mine's satellite development properties and on the deeper level development and exploration at the mine.

In the quarter to September 30, Blanket produced a record amount of 12 918 ounces of gold from its underground operations. Since 2009, the gold mine has quadrupled production and is now one of the most efficient gold operations on the continent.

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