Egypt awards gold mining tender to four companies

Four companies, including two foreign ones, have won Egypt's gold mining exploration tender for five concessions in the Eastern Desert and the Sinai Peninsula, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said on Monday.

Britain's Veritas Mining Limited, Ghassan Spain Investment, and Egypt's East Gas Company won a concession each while Resolute Egypt won two, El Molla said in a statement.

Egypt is hoping that gold production can be a future source of growth for its struggling economy. It began accepting bids in January for five concessions in its first tender for new gold exploration since 2009. The deadline for bids was April 20 and the result was due in May.

The level of interest from bidders was not expected to be very great because Egypt's commercial terms for mining have been criticized by investors for using an unprofitable model for exploration.

Centamin, the operator of the country's only commercial gold mine, has previously said that the terms were not competitive enough to take part in the bidding.

Egypt recently established a free economic zone dedicated to mining known as the Golden Triangle because of its location in an area of the Eastern Desert with gold mining potential. The country hopes this will attract global mining investors which have shunned Egypt until now because of the commercial terms.

(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)