• Egypt’s Golden Triangle masterplan is due to be published in February 2016
  • Golden Triangle covers 6,000 square kilometres
  • Masterplan will coordinate projects over period of 30 years
  • Mining bid rounds are due to be held after Golden Triangle masterplan is published

Work on the 30-year masterplan for Egypt’s Golden Triangle scheme is proceeding on schedule and the plan should be published in February 2016, according to D’Appolonia, the Italian engineering services company that is responsible for the project.

The Golden Triangle scheme is slated to include several interrelated projects including fertiliser factories, phosphate ore processing facilities, and facilities to process shale and limestone as a precursor to cement.

“Mining projects will be the main driver, but agriculture and tourism projects will also play an important role,” says Cristina Migliaro, sector development manager at D’Appolonia.

The Golden Triangle project focuses on a triangular-shaped area of Egypt that covers 6,000 square kilometres between the towns of Edfu, south of Quena, to Marsa Alam, on the Red Sea coast, to Safaga, which is located to the north of Marsa Alam.

Industrial mining

According to current plans, it will also include a gold ore processing facility, a facility to process shale oil as well as transport infrastructure projects that will be carried out to support the industrial mining projects.

“Our studies are still in their early stages and we are yet to decide just how the region’s transport links and ports need to be altered in order to facilitate the development of the region’s mining projects,” says Migliaro.

As part of the study processes D’Appolonia is undertaking to develop the Golden Triangle masterplan, the company is devising an index to compare the attractiveness of investing in mining projects in Egypt as opposed to other schemes in the Middle East and North Africa.

One factor that will increase Egypt’s attractiveness in the future is its new legal framework for mining operations, according to Migliaro.

Mining regulation

“We believe the ongoing work to devise a new legal framework for mining operations in Egypt is a positive step forward for the country and will help to attract new investors,” she says.

“Under the new law there is no room for personal negotiation or renegotiation. Effort has been made to set out a system where the rules are clear and this is something that will appeal to investors.”

In March, Egyptian officials presented an ambitious development plan for the country’s mining sector that included bid rounds for mining concessions and the implementation of a new mining law.

As things stand, the plan is a long way behind schedule.

The mining bid rounds that were due to be held in the first half of this year have yet to materialise and the mining law, which was passed on 9 December 2014, is not yet being enforced after a delay in the publication of the law’s executive regulations.

These were eventually published in early July after months of wrangling over the tax and royalty structure for the mining sector.

The mining concession bid rounds are now not expected to take place until after the Golden Triangle masterplan is published, according to D’Appolonia.

Underdeveloped sector

One of the factors that may make investors wary of funnelling money into Egyptian mining projects is the underdeveloped nature of Egypt’s mining sector.

“A key challenge is devising a legal framework that keeps the balance between maximising the benefits for the Egyptian people by generating government revenues, and allowing the opportunity for profits to be made in order to attract international mining companies,” says Migliaro.

D’Appolonia is devising the masterplan using a team of 12 experts, who are being coordinated by a team leader.

Half of the team are in-house experts, with the rest comprising external consultants.

D’Appolonia is planning to hold four workshops that will involve stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and industrial associations.

Two of these will be held over September and October, one will be held in December and the final workshop, which will involve government officials, will be held in February or March next year.

When it is published in February next year the master plan will highlight several priority projects that will be selected for execution within the first five years of the project.

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