Egypt's newly-appointed Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy said that the country has no choice right now but to use coal in energy-intensive industries, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the minister said that coal will only be used in the manufacturing of cement, where it is burned at 1,300 degrees Celsius, what he said is a high enough temperature to prevent harmful emissions.
Fahmy added that there's no legislation in Egyptian law banning coal imports, but that importers will be required to meet certain conditions as stipulated by the last cabinet before they will be issued a mandatory permit.
The minister said Egypt's current economic situation should be considered, especially since the international price of coal is $4 per ton while the price of gas is $14 per million British themal units (MBTU).
Egypt's cabinet agreed last April on controls over the import and usage of coal for power generation.
The ministry of environment's stance on the use of coal has shifted drastically with the appointment of Fahmy last week. The previous environment minister, Laila Iskandar, was a strong opponent of its use.
Iskandar is now the urban development minister.