* Centamin says profit-share to start after agreed cost
* Egypt to receive $150 million to $200 million in 2015
* Sukari project revived ancient gold mining tradition
By Sarah Young and Edmund Blair
LONDON/CAIRO, Nov 8 Centamin said it
hoped to resolve a court case hanging over its Sukari gold mine
in Egypt during 2013, offering hope to shareholders worried
about the future of the gold miner's only producing operation.
An Egyptian administrative court ruled at the end of October
that Centamin's right to operate Sukari was invalid, slicing one
third off the company's share price in a day.
Centamin said earlier this week it was confident of winning
an appeal against the decision, which lawyers said might take
years to unravel.
The company said its appeal, which it will lodge next week,
will be based on the submission of an exploitation lease which
has yet to be seen by the court.
"Whether that's (the appeal) fast-tracked or not we'll know
more over the course of the next week, and that will determine
whether it's a month or three-month process," Centamin chairman
Josef El-Raghy told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
He said it was difficult to give a definitive time frame for
settling the case, but when asked if it would be resolved during
2013, Raghy said: "I would hope so."
The case against Centamin was brought by Egyptian lawyer
Hamdy Fakharany, who argued that the state was not receiving
sufficient returns and should stop operations at Sukari.
Fakharany, an ex-MP and a leader of the liberal Democratic
Front Party, has instigated other cases challenging the sale of
state land to real estate companies during the rule of Hosni
Mubarak, ousted in a popular uprising last year.
"There is zero benefit from closing this project," Raghy
The cases have added to investor nerves at a time when the
government is trying to revive confidence in the economy and
lure back foreign investment, which has all but evaporated.
Shares in Centamin, among a small pool of foreign firms
still pumping cash into the Egyptian economy, have recovered
some of their losses to trade at around 73 pence, up 15 percent
from where they closed on the day of the court ruling.
Raghy said he expected Sukari to continue operating normally
during ongoing legal procedures and that the mine was on track
to meet output guidance of 250,000 ounces of gold for 2012.
Centamin says its concession agreement was not annulled.
Centamin, which employs 1,200 staff at Sukari, has yet to
directly contribute to Egyptian coffers via its profit-sharing
But next year the state will net between $40 million to $50
million after the company has recovered more of its costs.
Egypt's return from the mine is due to rise to between $150
million to $200 million per year from 2015.
Centamin said terms offered in its 1994 agreement with Egypt
made exploring and developing a gold mine attractive, but said
terms offered in 2006 and 2009 bid rounds were not sufficient.
"We did not participate in those bid rounds because the
terms were too onerous for investment," Raghy said.
Centamin's Sukari revived Egypt's bullion mining history
dating back to ancient times. Centamin describes Egypt's eastern
desert as having great potential for more mines, but which is
under-explored and under-developed.
Most of the companies that picked up licences in the 2006
and 2009 bid rounds have since relinquished them, said El-Raghy.
"The gold is there. What isn't there is the investment
climate," Centamin's head of business development Andy Davidson