Sisi invites private sector to engage in Egypt’s projects to extract metals from black sand

Ahram Online , Wednesday 19 Oct 2022

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has called on private sector companies to engage in projects to extract heavy economic metals from black sand.

A view of the floating black sand concentration factory that is part of complex for the industrial concentration and separation of heavy metals extracted from black sand. Still image/Egyptian Presidency


El-Sisi made the remarks on Wednesday during the inauguration of a complex for the industrial concentration and separation of heavy metals extracted from black sand at the Egyptian Black Sand Company (EBSC) in Borolos city in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate.

The eco-friendly EGP 4 billion project implemented by the EBSC, an affiliate of the Armed Forces’ National Service Projects Organisation (NSPO), seeks to help reduce the import of economic metals extracted from black sand and export the surplus to European and Asian markets.

The markets include the UAE, Japan, China, Spain, the UK, and the Netherlands, said NSPO Director-General Walid Abul-Magd.

Egypt seeks to extract around 76 million tons of economic metals, said Abul-Magd, citing feasibility studies conducted by the Egyptian Nuclear Materials Authority (NMA) that contributed to the project.

Metals extracted from black sand will contribute to vital industries, including manufacturing ceramics, paints, hulls of aircraft and vehicles, and other technological industries.

In a speech during the ceremony, El-Sisi said the state welcomes the private sector’s participation in the black sand project, inviting private companies to establish black sand extraction factories or to partner with the government in this regard.

Feasibility studies ensured the presence of sufficient black sand reserves and global demand on the extracted metals, El-Sisi said in a message of encouragement to the private sector.

“If there are financial flows worth EGP 20-30 billion from the private sector, there would be two or three or four [black sand] factories in two years,” El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi invited large real estate development and contracting companies as well as companies operating in the mineral resources field to engage in the black sand project, noting that the metals extracted will be exported.

The black sand project in Kafr El-Sheikh will generate export revenues of $100 million and will save up to $50 million paid for imports, said NSPO’s chief.

‘Gold sand’ in Egypt

Egypt aims to make optimum use of black sand deposits along its northern coastal strip, extending over 400km from North Sinai’s Rafah city to Alexandria’s Abu Qir, according to the documentary Gold Sand, screened at the ceremony.

Black sand can also be found in Bernice on the Red Sea coast and Lake Nasser in southern Egypt.

The EBSC complex in Kafr El-Sheikh extends over 80 feddans (83 acres) and comprises six factories for separating minerals from black sand.

Giant eco-friendly dredger involved

Electric-powered floating dredger “Tahya Misr” will be carrying out the first phase of mining in the project with a production capacity of 2,500 tons per hour.

The giant 550-ton dredger arrived from Rotterdam to Kafr El-Sheikh in August to be part of the black sand project.

Andrew Foster, managing director of Mineral Technologies that is engaged in the project, said the project will bring benefits to Egypt in the form of downstream industries.

The project will also help Egypt increase exports and become part of the global mineral sands industry, Foster added in a recorded speech during the ceremony.

“We are excited and committed to support EBSC in the successful ongoing operation of the plant and future projects,” Foster noted.

The Netherlands-made eco-friendly dredger will transfer black sand to the concentration floating factory in Borolos that has an estimated production capacity of 600,000 tons.

Ensuring workers’ safety

Metals extracted from black sand include the slightly radioactive zircon and monazite as well as ilmenite, rutile, garnet, and magnetite.

The project helped create 5,000 direct and indirect job opportunities, according to the documentary.

El-Sisi highlighted the need to ensure the safety of workers in the black sand complex, stressing that the state is ready to provide the necessary materials required for protecting them.

Environmental studies have been conducted to ensure the safety of the workers, said head of the NMA Hamed Mira, adding that workers are highly monitored by the NMA and committed to a specified number of working hours to ensure they are not affected by radiation.

Moreover, radioactive monazite and zircon are preserved in special packages to prevent radioactive leaks, he added.

Mira noted that the eco-friendly project does not produce any carbon emissions.

Opening investment horizons

The black sand project in Kafr El-Sheikh is “the latest worldwide that uses advanced mining technology,” Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

He added that the new project aims at extracting metals from black sand to be used in many precision industries.

“This would open the horizons for new investments that back the national economy and the comprehensive development process,” Rady stressed.

The inauguration of the new factory “is a new addition to the series of mega national projects that aim at full exploitation of Egypt’s natural resources,” the spokesman said.

According to the EBSC website, the project is focused on the exploration, separation and concentration of economic minerals from beach black sands and stream sediments in collaboration with international experience, transfer and localization of advanced technologies.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Minister of Electricity and Mineral Resources Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Defence and Military Production Mohamed Zaki, and other state officials attended the inauguration ceremony.

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