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Aim-listed Shanta Gold remains committed to enhancing its robust fundamentals to protect long-term sustainable returns, following the announcement of its maiden dividend earlier this year, CEO Eric Zurrin says.

The company announced a maiden dividend of 0.10p apiece for payment in April and a commitment to ongoing sustainable returns.Zurrin says that reducing the company’s debt is a key part of that strategy.

Shanta’s gross debt decreased from $11.1-million to $1.4-million after the end of the quarter ended March 31, following the repurchase of all outstanding convertible loan notes and early repayment of an Exim loan facility.“The early repayment of the Exim loan facility and the repurchasing of all outstanding convertible loan notes demonstrates our financial discipline and further strengthens our balance sheet,” Zurrin notes.

“Beyond the income opportunity for shareholders and the steady gold production at New Luika, our exploration programme continues to unlock further capital growth within the portfolio.

“We are seeing encouraging drilling results across all three of our assets having completed 19% of the drilling programme so far this year, which has already unlocked an additional 76 461 oz of new indicated resources at Luika,” he points out.

Shanta had cash and available liquidity of $50.5-million and net cash of $31-million as at March 31.

During the quarter, it produced 14 641 oz of gold. Production is set to increase throughout the year.

The ongoing ramp-up of a third mill at New Luika is targeting monthly throughput of 2 300 t/d during the third quarter, an increase of 18% compared with daily throughput in 2020.

Shanta’s 2021 production guidance of about 80 000 oz has been reiterated.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation was $7.6-million for the March quarter.

Cash costs were $829/oz and all-in sustaining costs $1 307/oz.