Centamin brings industrial-scale gold production back to Egypt – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – October 26, 2015)

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The Egyptian Museum in the northern Italian city of Turin is considered one of the finest museums of its kind outside of Egypt. Among its marvels is the Turin Papyrus Map, one of the earliest known maps.

It is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of gold. According to scholars, it was made about 1150 BC and was prepared for a quarrying expedition for King Ramses IV in the eastern desert. The map, which is almost three metres long, shows a gold mine, a gold mining settlement and gold-bearing quartz veins.

The Egyptian pharaohs adored gold. It was believed to be the flesh of the sun god Ra and was evidently produced at near-industrial scale. Three millenniums later, industrial-scale gold production is back in Egypt’s eastern desert, thanks to a gold company called Centamin PLC, with listings in both Toronto and London.

Not only has Centamin put Egypt back on the gold mining maps, it is one of the few gold companies of any size to have climbed in one of the nastiest markets seen by gold producers in decades.

In the last year, its shares are up 18 per cent, giving it a market value of almost £800-million ($1.6-billion Canadian). Last week, Centamin picked up another buy recommendation, this time from Goldman Sachs, which hailed its low production costs, potential for growth and absence of debt, giving it strategic flexibility in an industry studded with For Sale signs. “Best in class growth with low costs,” concluded Goldman’s gold analysts.

Centamin is now taking advantage of the bullish reports to lure back the investors who got spooked during the Arab Spring, when Egypt went from dictatorship to democracy to military coup within two years. The exodus saw the shareholder register drained of North American investors, while British investors, who are typically more tolerant of risk, largely stayed put.

As a result, most of Centamin’s trading now takes place in London, not Toronto, even though the company relied on the Toronto market to raise most of the $490-million (U.S.) it used to build the Egyptian mine, which has been in production since 2010.

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