Court rules Centamin’s Sukari mine contract invalid

Centamin's contract to exploit the Sukari gold mine in Egypt is invalid, an Egyptian administrative court ruled on Tuesday, shaving almost two-thirds off the value of the miner's London-listed shares.

It is the latest in a series of rulings by Egyptian courts that have challenged contracts reached during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular uprising last year. Some cases against investors had been raised before he was toppled.

Shares in Centamin, which had been modestly weaker before the ruling, were down 57 percent by 9:33 GMT.

Tuesday's decision will add to investor worries about Egypt, which is trying to revive confidence in the economy after the turmoil during the uprising.

"The court rules as invalid the contract to exploit the Sukari mine," Judge Said al-Qusair said, adding the court also ruled that a decision by the authorities to offer a 30-year contract and to allow it to be renewed was also void.

The court ruling can be appealed. Centamin officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

"The ruling brings back Egypt's gold back (home)," said lawyer Hamdy Fakharany, who filed the case against Centamin, adding that Egypt's returns from the mine were not high enough.

Fakharany was also behind other cases that have challenged contracts selling state land to real estate companies during Mubarak's era.

"We will take an official copy of the ruling and inform the government, the mine should be closed now. This is a very positive ruling in favor of the Egyptian people," he told Reuters by telephone.

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