Caledonia to power own mines


Caledonia Mining Corporation’s Blanket Gold Mine has installed and commissioned its first high-voltage diesel generator to sustain operations that had come under threat from periodic power outages as the resources company fights to meet its gold production target of 40 000 ounces per annum.
It cost the Canada-based mining corporation $2,5 million to acquire and install the 2,5MVA diesel generator, which would operate as a standby generating capacity. The company decided to power its own operations after Blanket Mine, located in Matabeleland South, almost grounded to a halt in the first five months of the year when outages aggravated to a record nine hours a day.
The mine plans to install additional diesel generating capacity as soon as it completes developing its Number 4 shaft project, which would boost annual gold output to 40 000 ounces.
Mark Learmonth, vice -president of Caledonia Mining Corporation, said the miner — which relied exclusively on Zesa for the 33kV required tom power its operations —now expects the generator to increase capacity utilisation to 60% from the current 30-40%.
“The increased frequency, coupled with the unpredictability and duration of power outages has an adverse effect both on gold production and on the underground installations essential for the completion of the Number 4 shaft expansion project,” Learmonth said. “We should be producing at least 2 000 ounces of gold per month, but we are producing between 1 200-1 400 ounces of gold per month.”
The Number 4 shaft expansion project is expected to come on stream by the end of the year, increasing output from the mine to 3 500 ounces of gold per year.