Sawiris’ La Mancha in talks to join Egypt potential gold tender

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris announced on Wednesday ongoing negotiations between the government, his gold group La Mancha, and other companies to participate in a gold exploration tender in Egypt.

The Egyptian government “already started talks with us as well as other companies to promote the new tender,” Sawiris said in a phone interview with Bloomberg.

“We are willing to participate in any area that could be promising.” he didn’t specify which of the companies he’s involved with would submit bids.

In August, Sawiris expressed his intentions to invest in gold and copper mining in Egypt but was waiting to see the details of a new mining law designed to attract more investment.

Now, the shakeup in regulations and a potential auction of new licences could give the Egyptian billionaire a shining opportunity.

Egypt, where the mineral wealth remains substantially undeveloped and under-explored, will unveil its first exploration tender in about three years by March, a person with direct knowledge of the plans told Bloomberg.

2017 was Egypt’s last gold exploration tender as it attracted little appetite from international companies and was shunned by gold producer Centamin, operator of the country’s only active gold mine, Sukari. The mine opened in 2009 and produced 480,529 ounces (15 tonnes) in 2019.

Sawiris, who recently revealed that he had put as much as half of his wealth into gold, has seen his dreams of gold-mining in Egypt getting obstacles before. His closely held gold-miner La Mancha is the biggest shareholder of Toronto-listed Endeavour Mining Corp., which operates in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

Endeavour had recently made a $1.9 billion offer to take over Centamin, yet was rejected by the company, saying the amount fundamentally undervalued its assets.

“The new regulations are more favourable and more realistic and would attract foreign investments to the sector,” Sawiris told Bloomberg.

The Egyptian government plans a roadshow in Canada next month and will promote the new opportunities at a global mining conference, the Egyptian billionaire added.