Egypt announces an international exploration tender for gold-mining

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The FINANCIAL — Egypt to launch bid round in March for gold exploration in Eastern Desert. Investors will be bidding on blocks which will be awarded to them within four months of the bid round being launched. Egypt issued new regulations after getting complaints from investors. The blocks will be administered under a free carry, tax and royalty scheme.

Egypt plans to launch an exploration round for gold in its Eastern Desert in the first half of March, an official at the mineral resources authority said on Sunday. Investors will be bidding on blocks which will be awarded to them within four months of the bid round being launched, the official said. The country’s Eastern desert is believed to be highly mineral-rich as it forms part of an area known as the Arabian-Nubian shield, a geological feature that stretches from Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the east to Sudan and Egypt in the west, according to Reuters.

The first bid round since 2017 will be held from March 15 to July 15, with subsequent ones taking place every four months, the Oil Ministry said Tuesday. The blocks will be administered under a free carry, tax and royalty scheme, with royalties capped at 20%. The mining law was changed “after we found it hindered investors,” Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla said while announcing the tender, which he described as having been met with excitement by businessmen both at home and abroad. “We switched to a tax and royalty system to replace the production-sharing system,” Bloomberg wrote.

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Molla added that investors will be given the opportunity to bid on 320 blocks over an area of about 56,000 square kilometres in the Eastern Desert and the Red Sea, clarifying that each block will cover an area of 170 square kilometres. Mineral Resources Act amendments include setting up a new authority in charge of licensing mines and quarries, taking the power to issue and control licenses away from governorates. They would also lift a previous 16,000 sqm area limit, allowing the authority to issue licenses to areas of unlimited size. Licenses could also be renewed for more than one term, according to Egypt Today.

Canada’s Aton Resources became the first company in more than a decade to secure a gold mining licence in Egypt, which last year issued new regulations to ease foreign investment in the sector. Aton’s permit is the second mining licence issue in Egypt since 2005, when Centamin — the country’s main gold producer — was granted its licence for its Sukari mine. Aton’s president and chief executive, Mark Campbell, said the licence is for 20 years, with the possibility of extending it for another 10 years. It allows the company to start the Hamama development as well as continuing exploration at Rodruin and other exploration targets within the Abu Marawat concession, Mining reported.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris on Sunday announced his interest in acquiring 51 percent of the Shalateen Mineral Resources Company. Sawiris said last year that he intended to invest in gold and copper mining in Egypt. In May 2018 the billionaire transferred half of his 5.7 billion net worth into gold, believing that gold prices will continue to rise. Thirty-five percent of the SMRC is owned by the Egyptian General Mineral Resources Authority, 34 percent is owned by the Ministry of Defense’s National Service Projects Organization, 24 percent owned by the National Investment Bank and seven percent owned by the Egyptian Company for Mineral Resources, Egypt Independent wrote.

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