Mining industry of Egypt – Wikipedia

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The Turin Mining Papyrus depicts the mines in Wadi Hammamet and is the oldest known map of its kind.

Mining in Egypt It had a long history dating back to pre-dynastic times. Active mining began in Egypt around 3000 BC. Egypt has significant mineral resources, including 48 million tons of tantalite (the fourth largest in the world), 50 million tons of coal, and an estimated 6.7 million ounces of gold in the Eastern Desert.[1] The total real value of the extracted minerals was approx 102 million pounds ($18.7 million) in 1986, up from 60 million pounds ($11 million USD) in 1981.[2] The main minerals in terms of production volume were iron ore, phosphate and salt. The quantities produced in 1986 were estimated at 2048, 1310 and 1233 tons respectively, compared to 2139, 691 and 883 tons in 1981. In addition, trace amounts of asbestos (313 tons) and quartz (19 tons) were extracted in 1986.[2] Preliminary excavations in Sinai indicated deposits of zinc, tin, lead and copper.[2] Exploration and exploitation activities by the private sector have so far been limited.[1] Only recently, AngloGold Ashanti with its joint partner Thani Dubai and a Canadian-listed exploration company, Alexander Nubia International, has been drilling in Egypt’s Eastern Desert with some success. Centamin Ltd., a mineral exploration company incorporated in Australia, has started a massive mining project at Tell Sukari.[3]


Gold mining in Upper Egypt can be traced back to pre-dynastic times.[4] The oldest known map in the world from the Ramesside era, dating back to about 1160 BC, shows the way to the gold mines in Wadi Hammamet in the Eastern Desert.[5] The mines in ancient Egypt were worked by slaves who were forced to work under surprisingly difficult conditions, and were often beaten if they didn’t work hard enough.[6] Gold mining began with placer workings in Egypt, followed by shallow underground mining in Nubia around 1300 BC, during the New Kingdom period.[7] Methods of action included setting fire to weaken the rocks by thermal shock, a method described by Diodorus Siculus in his book. Historical library Written around 60 BC.

The extraction of granite and limestone was an advanced technology at the time the pyramids were built.[8] Marble, alabaster, and diorite were used to make statues, basalt to make coffins, and dolomite for hammers to make hard stones. A staggering amount of gold has been found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, the only ancient Egyptian royal burial site found in relatively intact condition.[9] Ancient texts refer to the vast amounts of legal gold, silver, and bronze that were used in Egyptian temple rituals, but among them, only one golden statue of the body of Amun, without his arms, survives.[10]

Precious and semi-precious stones that were extensively mined and manufactured included turquoise, beryl, amethyst, lapis lazuli, and malachite. Hathor was the patron goddess of miners, and her temples, statues, and inscriptions have been found at many rediscovered mining sites.[8] A large temple of Hathor, built by Seti II, was found in the copper mines of the Timna Valley; Another temple was discovered in Serabit el-Khadim, where turquoise was mined in ancient times, on an expedition led by Sir Flinders Petrie.

Egypt became a major producer of gold during the Old Kingdom and remained so for the next 1,500 years, with interruptions when the kingdom collapsed.[11] During the New Kingdom, gold production increased steadily, and mining became more intensive as new fields developed.[11] British historian Paul Johnson stated that it was gold, not military power, that supported the Egyptian Empire and made it the world power throughout the third quarter of the second millennium BC.[12] Most of the gold mines in Egypt today were exploited to extract high-quality gold (15 g/ton gold or more) by the ancient Egyptians;[8] However, there have been limited explorations applying modern day techniques where deposits can be viable based on gold grades as low as 0.5 g/t (provided there is adequate tonnage and readily available infrastructure).

The oldest known beryl mine in the world is located in the valley of Jebel Sikit in the Eastern Desert. Mining began during the Ptolemaic period, although most of the mining activities date back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.[13] All other beryl mining sites such as Jabal Al Zubarah, Wadi Umm Ad Dabaa and Wadi El Gemal are Roman, Byzantine or Islamic (mid-6th century onwards) sites in history. The mining of beryl in Egypt ceased when the Spanish Empire discovered high-quality emeralds in Colombia in the 16th century.[13]

Modern technology and gold prospecting[edit]

Diabetic mine

Alteration areas are among the most promising areas for mineral exploration in the central eastern desert. The ancient gold prospectors in Egypt targeted only the smoky quartz veins that contained large quantities of gold; However, they have left the areas of change untouched. Remote sensing and geophysical techniques can provide cost-effective tools that can provide valuable information on new mineralization sites. Mapping regions of potential mineral change is a critical task to advance mineral exploration in CED. Previously, this mapping used standard remote sensing techniques such as image rationing, principal component analysis, and image classifications. A recent study implemented spectral angle diagram (SAM) classification, surface structure, atmospheric magnetic data, and multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to help obtain better mapping results for potential mineral modifications in CED.[14] For example, spectral angle map (SAM) classification is a powerful classification technique that can be combined with meteorological data to map potential gold locations associated with the change region of the CED. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) spectral signature data for metaminerals can be used as a final member of the SAM classification. To aid in better mapping, the SAM score can be constrained by structural elements that limit mapping to actual change sites. The surface line layer of digital remote sensing data and geophysical information such as total magnetic intensity can be deployed to understand the tectonic regimes in CED and reveal the structural patterns that control the presence of gold deposits. For more details please see [15]

See more[edit]


  1. ^ a B “Mining in Egypt – an unexplored area” (pdf). International Finance Corporation. Archived from the original (pdf) on February 1, 2011. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  2. ^ a B c “Country Study: Egypt”. US Library of Congress, Federal Research Division. December 1993. Retrieved 2008-03-22. This article includes text from the source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Fr, Cache (August 2006). “A Gold Mine Worth 23 Billion Pounds (and Growing)”. Egypt today. Archived from the original dated 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  4. ^ Johnson, Paul (November 3, 1999). Civilization of ancient Egypt. Harper Collins. s. 94. ISBN 978-0-06-019434-5.
  5. ^ Johnson, Paul (1999). Civilization of ancient Egypt. Harper Collins. s. 113. ISBN 978-0-06-019434-5.
  6. ^ Klem, Dietrich. Clem, Rosemary. Murr, Andreas (January 1, 2001). “The Gold of the Pharaohs – 6,000 Years of Gold Mining in Egypt and Nubia”. Journal of African Geosciences. 33 (3-4): 643-659. Bibcode:2001JafES..33..643K. doi:10.1016/S0899-5362(01)00094-X. International Standard Periodical Number 1464-343X.
  7. ^ Marsden, John (2006). Chemistry of gold extraction. Mining and Mineral Exploration Association. s. 2. The ISBN 978-0-87335-240-6.
  8. ^ a B c “Lights on the Exploitation and Use of Minerals and Rocks Through the Egyptian Civilization”. The Egyptian State Information Service. 2005. Archived from the original dated 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  9. ^ Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  10. ^ Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  11. ^ a B Johnson, Paul (1999). Civilization of ancient Egypt. Harper Collins. s. 149. ISBN 978-0-06-019434-5.
  12. ^ Johnson, Paul (1999). Civilization of ancient Egypt. Harper Collins. s. 79. ISBN 978-0-06-019434-5.
  13. ^ a B Harrell, James A. (June 2004). “Archaeological Geology of the World’s First Emerald Mine”. Earth Sciences Canada. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  14. ^ Hassan, E.; Fagin, T.; Alfy, Z.; Hong, Y. (2016). “Spectral angle diagram and integration of geomagnetic data for gold-associated alteration zone mapping: a case study of the central eastern desert region of Egypt”. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 37 (8): 1762-1776. Bibcode:2016 IJRS…37.1762 AH. doi:10.1080/01431161.2016.1165887. S2CID 130031797.
  15. ^ Hassan, E.; Fagin, T.; Alfy, Z.; Hong, Y. (2016). “Spectral angle diagram and integration of geomagnetic data for gold-associated alteration zone mapping: a case study of the central eastern desert region of Egypt”. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 37 (8): 1762-1776. Bibcode:2016 IJRS…37.1762 AH. doi:10.1080/01431161.2016.1165887. S2CID 130031797.

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