HARARE – Toronto listed resources outfit, Caledonia Mining Corporation said on Tuesday it had increased its shareholding in the Zimbabwe domiciled Blanket Mine after snatching a 15 percent stake previously held by Fremiro Investments.

The transaction takes Caledonia’s shareholding in the gold operation to 64 percent, from 49 percent.

It is one of the first big agreements struct by a major mining firm since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government amended the controversial Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act in 2018.

The law restricted foreign shareholders to a maximum 49 percent shareholding in Zimbabwean businesses.

The Canadian firm did not disclose how much it paid for the stake.

But in November 2018, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding valuing the stake at $16,66 million.

Caledonia issued 727 266 of its new shares at an issue price of $7,15 a share, according to statement released on Tuesday.

Caledonia Mining CEO Steve Curtis said he looked forward to continued support from Fremiro, which will maintain a 6,3 percent shareholding after the deal.

“I am pleased to report that the company has concluded its transaction with Fremiro to increase Caledonia’s shareholding in Blanket to 64 percent,” he said.

“I would like to thank Fremiro for its support as a shareholder in Blanket during the last seven years and am confident that Fremiro, remains with now as a significant shareholder in the company, will continue to be supportive of Caledonia’s business going forward,” he added.

In October 2019, Caledonia Mining installed and commissioned an oxygen plant at the Blanket gold mine.

The company reported a resource upgrade at the mine in September 2018.

According to the update, the total measured and indicated gold ounces at the mine rose 13 percent from 714 000oz in August 2017 to 805 000oz as of July 2018. The Blanket gold mine produced 54 512oz of gold in 2018.