Gold tender draws lackluster response
While Egypt's gold-mining history dates back to the Pharoahs, large tracts of desert land remain un- or underexplored. Prospectors predict Egypt could be sitting on billions worth of the rare metal; Canadian mining executive Mark Campbell called Egypt “a geological Disneyland” in remarks to the Associated Press last year. Despite this untapped potential, companies say the government’s investment terms are driving them away. On Jan. 15, Egypt invited gold miners to bid for exploration licenses under production sharing agreements that grant the state half of any eventual profits. Companies wishing to participate would have to pay thousands of dollars per block for terms and conditions and technical data, as well as put up a $50,000 bond and detail an investment plan. Winning companies would also have to pay out millions of dollars’ worth of bonuses and fork over cash for training fees as well as royalty fees of 6 percent. Following the announcement of these terms, Egypt’s three major players— Centamin, Aton Resources, and Thani Stratex Resources—told Reuters they would not submit bids. But as of press time, authorities said they had no intention of altering the terms. “For those who find the bid round suitable for them under these terms, they are welcome in Egypt. For those who don't find them suitable, I don’t want to hear anyone’s advice,” said mining authority head Omar Teama.