Mark Learmonth
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Mark Learmonth

CEO: Caledonia Mining Corporation

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‘The market may not be there for us, in which case there’s no point in trying to pursue a dream that’s not available’

MARK Learmonth will most likely opt for the phased development of Caledonia Mining’s project, the $250m Bilboes brownfields mine near Bulawayo. We suspect, however, that this is not his preference. Learmonth is temperamentally less conservative than his predecessor at Caledonia, Steve Curtis. Under Curtis, Caledonia took seven years to fund the $150m expansion of Blanket. Granted, there were good reasons for this: as Blanket is Caledonia’s only operating asset, Curtis couldn’t over-leverage the balance sheet.

Consequently, Caledonia relied on internally generated cash flows to fund Blanket. (It should also be noted that Learmonth was Caledonia’s CFO during most of this time.) While it’s a good time to raise money for gold expansion, Zimbabwe remains beset with risk and, in any event, Caledonia has a dividend to protect. The quarterly payout has been increased about eight times in three years therefore shareholders would not take it lightly were this compromised. For these reasons, Learmonth’s ambition to take Caledonia’s production to 250,000 ounces a year from its current 80,000 oz in one slug will be tempered with restraint. Meanwhile, the company shelved oxide production from Bilboes. Learmonth said this was “disappointing” but added it had no bearing on the feasibility of Bilboes’s sulphide deposit which was the reason for the firm’s $53.3m all-share purchase in 2021.

Elsewhere in the business, Caledonia started first phase exploration at its Motata prospect. It has also started drilling at Blanket which may yield economic gold production from yet deeper levels. Caledonia is losing the services of its COO Dana Roets after 10 years’ service. Responsible for overseeing Blanket’s expansion, Roets stepped down in November 2023.


Mark Learmonth joined Caledonia in 2008 and became the company’s CFO in 2014. Before this he was a division director at Macquarie First South, which formed part of 17 years’ experience in corporate and investment finance in South Africa, most of it in resources. He graduated from Oxford University and is a chartered accountant. He is a member of the executive committee of Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines.

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