Considering Egypt’s rich and diversified culture and history, ancient mining would have definitely played a major role in the development of high grade orebodies. However, modern exploration has not really been carried out in Egypt, and as a result, the country has excellent potential for the discovery of significant discoveries (gold in particular). Egypt’s mineral resource development is co-ordinated by the Egyptian Geological Mining and Survey Authority (EGMSA).
Interest has been shown in the southeast of Egypt where numerous ancient gold workings exist in banded iron formations and metavolcanics. The only active foreign company in Egypt is by Australian firm Centamin Egypt and the EGMSA. They have embarked on an extensive drilling program which has outlined two gold resources in the east, the Sukari Concession and Eastern Desert area respectively. The Sukari project has a total resource of 37 Mt grading 1.46g/t for 1.66 Moz gold (using a 0.5 g/t cutoff). The Egyptian Government have issued Centamin the rights to develop the deposit. Centamin has a widening portfolio of interests in Egypt; apart from achieving 100% (up from 65%) of the Sukari project. Centamin has acquired several substantial gold and base metal projects. These are the Barramyia, Fawakhir and Semna gold prospects, each having the potential of hosting multi million ounce gold deposits and the Abu Marawat and Hamama gold and base metal massive sulphide prospects with good potential.
The GMSA has approved US Based Cresset Precious Metals’ development of the Umm Tundub mine situated in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. According to Cresset, the deposit has total reserves containing some 23 Moz gold and 239 Moz silver!
Heavy Mineral Sands
The Nile delta could become the source of heavy mineral sand deposits of ilmenite and zircon. Centamin and Kara Gold have an interest in Egyptian Pharaoh Investment (EPI) that are currently assessing the Rosetta heavy mineral sands project, located approximately 60km east of Alexandria. EPI have estimated that the Rosetta resource contains as much as 37 Mt of heavy mineral sands.
Egyptian iron ore is mined in El Gedida area of El Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert. The nearly 3 Mt/year produced from this deposit is destined for Hadisolb’s Helwan Iron and Steel Works near Cairo. This production provides about three-quarters of Egypt’s demand. Although an importer of iron ore, several high-grade deposits have been identified to the southeast of Aswan.
Egypt’s major industrial mineral export is phosphate, producing 1500 Mt in 2003 and 2002. Phosphate and limestone are mined near Bur Safaga and Quseir on the Red Sea Coast.The El Nasr Phosphate Company and the Red Sea Phosphate Company have been mining phosphate rocks for a number of years. In 1989 a new phosphate mine was brought into production at West Sabaeya to supply feedstock to the Abu-Zabaal Fertilizer and Chemical Company. Egypt’s first coal mine opened in 1995 in the northern Sinai area. Production was initially intended for domestic power uses, but now has the potential to export due to the abundance of natural gas that provides 35% of Egypt’s total energy consumption.
Gippsland has agreed upon a joint venture to evaluate the Abu Dabbab tantalite deposit that is estimated to contain measured resources of 12 Mt grading 274 g/t tantalum pentoxide. Indicated and inferred resources total 28.1 Mt grading at an average of 250 g/t tantalum pentoxide. A new company, Tantalum Egypt is to be formed that represents the interests of both Gippsland and the EGMSA. The Abu Dababb deposit is located 770km south of Cairo and 75km from the Port of Quseir.