Gold production dates back to Ancient Egyptians (3100-2181B.C.).The Papyrus of El-Fawakhir mine map documents the evolution of mining industry and the well planning of Bekhen industrial complex. Production continued extensively till the fifth century AD. The production of gold during the period from 1902 to 1927 was about 2750 kgm, however, it stopped till 1934, then it started again in 1935 and it reached about 4200 Kg till 1958.The number of the old mines and the areas where gold is present in Egypt are about 120 sites, all located in the Eastern Desert.
Gold extraction stopped in 1958, and it took place in parts rich of gold ore and in shallow deeps due to the absence of technological potentials, which enable economic production in deep areas and treating low-percent gold ores. Production stopped completely till 2007.Thus, the entire production of gold in the twentieth century was 7 tons only of pure gold. But with the availability of sufficient technology and the presence of a partner, who is able to help financially, gold was discovered in many areas from gold deposits in Egypt and more gold reserves were approved.
Gold discovery and production in Egypt once again assures the strategy of the Ministry of Petroleum which aims at supporting gold exploration and production, achieving the optimal economic utilization and increasing the added value, in addition to increasing job opportunities in this promising sector, which employs large numbers of workers. Moreover, the presence of gold in the middle of and south the valley contributes positively in the socio-economic development of these areas, which is one of the main goals of the State and is considered a new tributary for the national income. At present, there are three sites for gold production in the Eastern Desert, the first is in Sukari Hill, the second is in Hamash and the third is in Wadi Allaqi.
Sukari Gold Mines
The Sukari gold mine, which is considered one of the largest open-pit gold mines worldwide, is located in the Eastern Desert about 25 km southwest of Marsa Alam.
The Sukari Gold Mining Company was established in May 2005.It is a joint venture operating company between the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority and the Australian Pharaoh Gold Mining (Centamin) to explore and exploit gold after the transfer of the mineral resources activities to the ministry of Petroleum.
The first integrated plant was established in Mubarak Complex for the production of gold, copper, and silver in Sukari area. The actual start up of the plant was in December 2009, representing an industrial, technological and economic leap in the gold industry in Egypt, and a serious start for Egypt to rank among gold producers worldwide during the coming years. In addition, the production of the mine includes silver and copper.
The Plant started regular commercial production of gold, silver and copper in January 2010, its production has reached about 911 kg till now (March2010).It is planned to produce gold at a rate of 200,000 ounces for two years and to increase to 500,000 ounces annually for 20 years; the project life span.
It is worth mentioning that the production of the plant expected in 2010 only will surpass what had been produced of gold in Egypt in the entire last century.
The total investments are about 320 million dollars. It is planned to increase the company's investments in the fields of gold exploration and production in Egypt during the coming period, attracting the attention of a large number of international banks to participate in financing this project, which is considered one of the largest gold mines in the world. It offers about 4500 direct and indirect job opportunities.
Reserves rose from 3 million ounces in May 2005 to 13 million ounces currently. Drilling operations are still ongoing in the sectors of Amun, Ra and Pharaoh to specify gold alteration zones, and to increase the reserves and their grade. Deep drilling has shown high results of gold alteration in the rocks.
Hamash Gold Mines
Hamash mine is located 100 Km west Marsa Alam in the Eastern Desert.
Hamash Egypt for Gold Mines is a joint venture company between the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority and the American Cresset, which gave up its whole share to the Cypriot Matz Holdings. It produced its first experimental gold bar in 2007.
Method of extracting gold:
In Hamash gold mine, gold is extracted by heap leaching, which relies on heaping the rocks containing gold after crushing them and then they are irrigated with a chemical solution which dissolves gold. The leach solution containing the dissolved metals is then collected. The gold is then extracted by an electrical and mechanical method. This method needs a sufficient period of time to let the leaching solution extract most of the gold found in the rocks.
The total of the gold produced from melting and casting gold deposits, resulting from the electro refining process since the start of the commercial production till February 2010, reached about 65 kg of gold. The Hamash Company's 2010 plan indicates the possibility of producing 15 thousand ounces of gold during the fiscal year 2010.
The Eastern Desert, 250 km southeast of Aswan.
The Australian Gippsland explores and exploits gold and copper in Wadi Allaqi area.
Exploration started in October 2004 and the results were very encouraging in Sega, Um Shasouba,and Haimour areas ,where the company announced the discovery of high grade gold in economic quantities ranging from 2 to 4 grams per ton. More reserves are currently being approved through 5 exploring missions for geological studies, and two drilling machines are drilling deep wells for the first time in the history of Wadi Allaqi area.
Other promising areas:
In addition to the Eastern Desert some areas in Sinai, like Um Zoreik and southwest the Western Desert, are considered promising areas that are qualified to be offered in the coming bid rounds.
New vision to Administrate the Mineral Resources Sector.
The discovery of gold in 3 areas in the eastern Desert lead to the success of the first international bid round to explore for gold in Egypt with a production sharing system .It was offered by the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority in July 2006 and closed on the first of November 2006 for 9 areas in the Eastern and the Western Deserts. Six companies of different nationalities (Canadian,American,Russian,Australian,Emirati, and Cypriot)made 22 bids covering all the areas proposed in the bid round, which reflects the confidence in the mineral resources investment climate and the stability of this vital sector. It resulted in signing 8 agreements, which exceeds what had been signed in the previous 100 years, which were only 3 agreements.
2009 First International Bid Round
On 5/6/2009 the first international bid round was offered for 2009 to explore and exploit gold and associated minerals in Egypt with a production sharing system. The bid round included 7 areas in the Eastern Desert .Eight companies of different nationalities made
15 bids covering 6 areas, the bid went to 3 companies covering 5 areas. Procedures are being taken to issue the laws and sign the agreements in preparation to start exploration in the near future. Thus, the total agreements (signed and to be signed) are14 in total, which reflects confidence in the investment climate of the mineral resources sector which significantly contributes to increasing the national income and to increasing the job opportunities.