Centamin board to assess West Africa gold prospects as Horgan confirms firm has ‘reset’

CENTAMIN CEO, Martin Horgan, said he was “looking forward” to submitting the group’s West African growth prospects to the board for assessment at the end of March.

“We will then update the market on our strategy. There has been a lot invested in the assets and the focus will be on taking them to reserves and whether we will develop them,” Horgan said.

Centamin has explored two prospects in Côte d’Ivoire in Doporo and the ABC project as well as Batie West in Burkina Faso. Horgan said that if approved for investment, the next step would be to establish a timeline for prefeasibility studies.

It had also in November been awarded exploration permits for properties in the Egyptian part of the Arabian-Nubian Shield near to where the company operates the 450,000 ounce a year Sukari gold mine. Horgan said he was “greedy” to develop prospects in Egypt and West Africa. “I can’t see why we can’t do both,” he said today.

Horgan said the region was “… one of the last unexplored gold provinces out there”. It had not been subject to new exploration technology and its attractiveness was supported by rival bids for exploration licences by gold major, Barrick Gold, and B2Gold – one of the gold sector’s emerging mid-tier companies.

Horgan was commenting following publication of the firm’s 2020 financial year numbers in which it posted a 78% improvement in basic share earnings of 13.53 US cents/share. As announced previously, it would pay a 3 US cents/share dividend.

In December, Centamin unveiled a mining and dividend return plan for the next four years of no less than a $100m payout for each of the first two years, and ensure gold production of 450,000 to 500,000 ounces up to 2024.

This was in terms of a review undertaken last year by Horgan who had in April joined the company from Toro Gold, a firm he co-founded. The review set down plans for more efficient mining of Sukari’s open pit and underground mine as well as the exploitation of extensions and satellite resources.

Currently, Sukari has a 12-year life of mine with a proven and probable gold reserve content of five million ounces as of December 31. This compares to seven million ounces 18 months previously.

Horgan described 2020 as “a pivotal year” in terms of having “reset” the company. “The focus is now on consistency of delivery. This is the first step in re-establishing confidence in management … We have got a sense of purpose,” he said.

Centamin was the subject of an all-share takeover bid by Endeavour Mining which valued the company at £1.48bn. After reaching double that market capitalisation last year, Centamin is today valued at £1.23bn following a correction in the gold price, and cooling in share prices seen throughout the sector.

Horgan said he thought the gold price was unlikely to fall to $1,000/oz but he wasn’t “a gold bull” either, saying gold would trade within a $100/oz range of current levels. Gold was last at $1,732/oz.