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Caledonia Mining started with 'buy' at broker Cantor as Blanket continues ramp up

Earlier this month, the firm released details of another record quarter at the 49%-owned Blanket mine

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Production was 16,425 ounces of gold in the three months to December, 14% more than the previous quarter

City broker Cantor has started covering Zimbabwe-based gold miner Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL,TSX:CAL) with a 'buy' stance and 989p target price (current price:530p).

Earlier this month, the firm released details of another record quarter at the 49%-owned Blanket mine.

WATCH: Caledonia Mining's Blanket Mine continuing to punch above its weight

Production was 16,425 ounces of gold in the three months to December, 14% more than the previous quarter and 21% higher than a year ago.

For 2017 as a whole, production was 11% higher than the previous year at 56,135 ounces, which was just ahead of guidance and also a yearly record for Blanket.

Caledonia (CAL) and its Zimbabwean partners are now more than three years into the self-funded investment plan at the Blanket mine which should result in a circa 75% expansion in annual production versus 2017 to circa 80,000 ounces and a corresponding 25% reduction in all sustaining costs to around US$750 per ounce, notes Cantor's mining analyst Asa Bridle.

"The production gains are based on a significant overhaul and expansion of the mine’s underground infrastructure which will see the operation access new ore at deeper levels to supply the underutilised processing plant," he notes.

The analyst also points to the fact that the Caledonia growth story should also attract income investors, it having been a dividend payer for nearly five years.

"Most impressively, CAL has been able to maintain and increase its quarterly dividend payments despite the capital commitment to the expansion programme at the Blanket mine," he says.

Finally, Bridle is seemingly unruffled by the political situation in Zimbabwe.

READ: Caledonia Mining notches consecutive records at Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe

The country, he says, "must be viewed as a high sovereign risk jurisdiction but the demise of the Mugabe regime last November at least gives a fresh opportunity for recovery".

He says the firm has made itself of strategic importance to Zimbabwe as a major employer in its region, dollar earner and tax payer.

Quick facts: Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC

Price: 1140 GBX

AIM:CMCL
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £138.15 m
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Caledonia Mining Corporation present at the Proactive One2One virtual forum

Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC's (LON:CMCL) Mark Learmonth presents the company to investors at the Proactive One2One Virtual Conference. Caledonia's a profitable, cash generative gold producer, with a strong growth profile. Their primary asset is the Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe which...

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