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Centamin reins in costs at Sukari

Centamin has provided further evidence operational efficiency is on the up at its flagship Sukari asset, with unit cash costs falling 30% in the December quarter.
Centamin reins in costs at Sukari Centamin reins in costs at Sukari Centamin reins in costs at Sukari Centamin reins in costs at Sukari Centamin reins in costs at Sukari

Centamin's flagship asset: the Sukari gold mine in Egypt's Eastern Desert

Unit cash costs amounted to US$605/oz in Q4, versus US$860/oz in Q3. Centamin's Q4 cost figure was 10.6% below the US$677/oz forecast by RBC's James Bell.

While production guidance for 2020 was unchanged at 510,000oz-540,000oz - with 60% weighted to the second half of the year, forecast all in sustaining costs of between US$870-920/oz were slightly below RBC's estimate of US$928/oz.

But the company cannot afford to rest on its laurels. Bell said Centamin needed to carry its recent form at Sukari forward to convince investors previous operational issues had been ironed out.

"We do think 2020 needs a strong start to reassure the market Sukari can deliver on its targets post two years of missed guidance," said Bell.

"Whilst operational performance at Sukari appears to have stabilised we think market perceptions will remain cautious towards the group for some time and that this could hamper valuation. Due to this, we think the group may only perform in line, at best, with precious peers."

Further caution could result from Centamin's capex plans: the company will spend a total of US$190 million, including a new US$50 million investment program at Sukari. While RBC called the spending plan "sensible", the total figure was US$80 million higher than the estimate provided by analysts at stockbroker Numis Securities.

Either way, Centamin will be keen to prove its decision to reject a recent takeover offer from Endeavour Mining was a smart one.

"The leadership teams have been strengthened and I am confident in our ability not just to deliver in the near term but also to enhance the long-term value at Sukari, and the rest of the portfolio," Centamin's interim CEO Ross Jerrard said in a statement.