Mining companies awarded blocks in Egypt’s Eastern Desert are slated to begin exploring for gold under a legislative overhaul that seeks eventually to unlock vast untapped mineral resources.
Despite abundant reserves and a rich mining history that gave rise to elaborate Pharaonic gold jewelery, Egypt has just one commercial gold mine in operation. Foreign investment in gas and oil has grown, but mining has languished.
Now, the country is banking on high gold prices and amended mining laws that scrap red tape and a profit-sharing rule, unpopular in the industry, to lure interest.
One year after launching its first bid round under the new rules, it has so far clinched 5 gold exploration contracts in a first bidding round and kept the tendering system rolling as it attempts to build momentum.
The government is looking to attract $1 billion in annual investments in mining, a target industry sources say could be within reach.
“Success is ultimately going to be measured by how many mines are going to be discovered and advanced to production,” said Patrick Barnes, Head of Metals & Mining Consulting EMEARC at Wood Mackenzie, which advised Egypt’s government on its mining law reforms.
“Early indicators show us that this bid round was much better than the ones held previously.”