Centamin Suspends Egyptian Mine And Crashes 61%

Published in Company Comment on 13 December 2012

Gold miner Centamin (LSE: CEY) owns up to more trouble in Egypt.

The shares of Centamin (LSE: CEY) crashed 32p, or 61%, to 20p during early London trade this morning after the gold miner said it had been forced to suspend operations at its Sukari mine in Egypt.

Centamin blamed the shutdown on a lack of diesel supplies and "unforeseen and arbitrary" red tape halting sales.

The firm said the lack of diesel was due to an "illegal retrospective claim" from the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation for fuel supplied between December 2009 and January 2012. The claim amounts to $65m.

Meanwhile, the red tape involves customs officials seeking approval to permit further gold exports from the Egyptian Minister of Finance.

Centamin admitted that its Sukari mine had been placed "on care and maintenance" until the issues were resolved.

Today's news follows a disastrous 2012 for the Centamin.

Back in March, Centamin was forced to suspend its Sukari mine for a week due to "illegal labour unrest" about salaries among part of the firm's workforce.

Then in July, the company was quick to dismiss Egyptian press reports claiming it had breached various agreements with the Egyptian authorities. July also witnessed another strike, which shut the Sukari mine for a further week.

And during October, Centamin suspended its shares for two days following comments from an Egyptian administrative court that prompted speculation its mining concession agreement had been suspended.

Prospective 'knife catchers' looking at Centamin today may be tempted by the valuation upside should the Sukari mine ever recommence production.

During the first nine months of the year, Centamin's profits reached almost £100m, suggesting the current £231m market cap is valued at about twice trailing profits.

Furthermore, cash, bullion and investments on the balance sheet last stood at around £114m, while debt was zero.

Of course, whether the hapless Sukari mine, today's price plunge and potential for recovery make Centamin a 'buy' -- or the equivalent of a 'pyramid' investment -- remains your decision.

Indeed, you may wish to consult this free Motley Fool report, which explains how betting on battered shares can provide wonderful gains… if the underlying company recovers. To put a possible turnaround into perspective, Centamin's shares reached a peak of 197p before the Egyptian troubles erupted.

Anyway, if Centamin is tempting you today, please click here to read the Fool's exclusive 'millionaire' report before you hit the 'buy' button.

> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual writers and are not representative of The Motley Fool. If you spot any comments that are unsuitable hit the flag to alert our moderators.

richjfool 13 Dec 2012 , 11:43am

No mention if Neil Woodford or Buffet own this stock.

salmo365 13 Dec 2012 , 1:10pm

I'm a beleagured investor who has about had enough.Anyone who even considers investing in Egypt in the future needs their head examined.

The country is effectively shutting itself off from external investment.

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