Strikes dull gold miner's shine



The cost of ongoing strikes in Egypt has been most apparent in the financials of Centamin, a gold miner based in Upper Egypt.

Losses at the Sukari gold mine, Egypt's only operational gold mine, are estimated at US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) a day, local reports suggest. Some 1,500 workers have prolonged strikes demanding a 60 per cent increase in their salaries and 10 per cent of the company's profits. Last week, the Egyptian media also reported that Centamin had fired 29 workers including top members of the independent workers' union.

The company has also been hit by allegations it has links to the former regime, which the chairman of the company, Josef El Raghy dismissed as "ridiculous and unfounded". The miner has also had to revert to buying fuel on the international market after some of the fuel subsidies owed to it by the Egyptian government failed to come through.

The tumultuous year has taken a toll on investors' view of Centamin. Shares of the company, which are listed on the London Stock Exchange, have fallen by as much as 36 per cent year to date. But Mr El Raghy said strikes and exposure to political unrest were insignificant.

"We're continuing with our expansion plans and since the revolution we've spent [about] $300m."

Centamin remains on track to deliver its fiscal 2012 production guidance of 250,000 ounces, he said.

Last year, Sukari produced 202,699 ounces of gold, an increase of almost 35 per cent compared with 2010 production, the company's financial statements show.

Production at the mine is expected to "increase next year and increase again the year after that", Mr El Raghy said. "I think the opportunity is there for us to be a real driver for the economy", he said.

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