Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules
An old abandoned mine is pictured in the eastern desert near the southern province of Luxor. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 April 2021

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules
  • Five firms have signed gold exploration contracts
  • Government seeking $1 billion of investment annually

CAIRO: Mining companies awarded blocks in Egypt’s Eastern Desert are set to start exploring for gold under a legislative overhaul that seeks eventually to unlock vast untapped mineral resources.
Despite plentiful reserves and a rich mining history that gave rise to elaborate Pharaonic gold jewelry, Egypt has just one commercial gold mine in operation. Foreign investment in oil and gas has grown, but mining has languished.
Now, the country is banking on high gold prices and amended mining laws that scrap red tape and a profit-sharing rule, unpopular in the industry, to lure interest.
One year after launching its first bid round under the new rules, it has so far clinched five gold exploration contracts in a first bidding round and kept the tendering system rolling as it tries to build momentum.
The government is looking to attract $1 billion in annual investments in mining, a target industry sources say could be within reach.
“Success is ultimately going to be measured by how many mines are going to be discovered and advanced to production,” said Patrick Barnes, Head of Metals & Mining Consulting EMEARC at Wood Mackenzie, which advised Egypt’s government on its mining law reforms.
“Early indicators show us that this bid round was much better than the ones held previously.”
In its initial tender, Egypt in November awarded 82 exploration blocks to what metals analysts say is a healthy mix of 11 companies, ranging from junior explorers to industry giants such as Barrick Gold.
The blocks on offer are in the Arabian-Nubian shield geological formation, which flanks the Red Sea and is believed to be one of the most mineral rich areas in the world.
Egypt’s mining drive is still at an early stage.
UK-based Altus Strategies told Reuters it was looking to build up its technical team and conduct remote sensing and mapping operations on the 1,500 square kilometers of land it has been awarded before starting exploration.
It expects to invest several million dollars in the short term but that could rise above $100-$200 million if a economic discovery is made.
A spokeswoman for Canada-based B2Gold, which also won concessions, said the company was looking forward to starting exploration soon “given the relative under-investment in modern exploration, and therefore untapped potential in the historically prospective Arabian-Nubian Shield.”
Mining firms welcomed the elimination of a requirement to form joint ventures with the Egyptian government, and the capping of state royalties at 20 percent.
However, the retention of a tendering process for exploration blocks limits the chances of any gold boom, said Sami El Raghy, Chairman of Australia-based Nordana.
“No other successful mining countries use this process. They all have a clear transparent mining laws stipulating the qualification, obligations and the rights of investors. (They) work on the principle first come, first served,” said El Raghy, who was also a founder of Egypt’s first and only commercial gold mine, Sukari.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources declined to comment.
On average, a mining project goes from discovery to production in 10-15 years. While gold prices have eased after reaching a record in 2020, economists expect they will remain high by historical standards over coming years.
“If you get to a point where several discoveries are made, Egypt could be one of the largest gold producers in Africa ... It had top-tier potential,” said Steven Poulton, CEO of Altus Strategies.
Environmental campaigners, however, say there is no justification for gold mining. It generates emissions, can add to water-stress and in contrast to copper and battery minerals is not in demand from technologies that can bring about a low carbon economy.
The government has said it is open to other minerals, but gold is the focus for now.
“Gold is absolutely the best thing for them to start with, because there’s a known amount of it,” said Wood Mackenzie’s Barnes.
“Egypt has immense potential for mining copper and gold and other commodities. The biggest concern in the industry is lack of supply for copper, places like Egypt which are considered under explored and high potential are going to get a lot of attention if they can maintain investment conditions,” he added.


Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace
Updated 28 September 2021

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace
  • Analysts forecast higher demand for oil as the global economy recovered from the pandemic downturn more quickly than expected

DUBAI: The price of oil surged on Monday to within a few cents of $80 a barrel, its highest level for nearly three years, as traders reassessed their outlook for global economic recovery amid tightening crude supply.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended the day at $79.60 a barrel — a 90 per cent rise in the last year — and analysts forecast higher demand for oil as the global economy recovered from the pandemic downturn more quickly than expected.
Damien Courvalin, commodities analyst at US bank Goldman Sachs, said: “While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected.” Global demand recovery from the impact of the coronavirus delta variant had been faster than previous estimates, he said, and Goldman raised its year-end forecast by $10 to $90 per barrel.
Christian Malek of JP Morgan restated his forecast of $100 per barrel as all commodities go through a “supercycle” in prices. “The oil supercycle is underway,” he said.
The recovery in oil prices from last spring has been in part driven by improving economic conditions around the world, but also to the action taken by OPEC+ — the alliance of producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — to curb supplies when demand was weak.
Although OPEC+ has begun to reverse the cuts, with an extra 400,000 barrels per month allowed until Dec. 2022, Goldman said the oil market would be in “structural deficit” again in 2023 as demand exceeded supply and investment remained low.
Despite the increased OPEC+ output quotas, some big producers have found it difficult to meet the new limits and give the global market all it needs. Saudi Arabia, with the biggest spare capacity in OPEC+, will probablybe a big winner from rising prices and output.
Gas shortages in Europe and elsewhere are also likely to give a boost to oil prices. “Winter demand risks are further now squarely skewed to the upside as to the global gas shortage will increase oil-fired power generation,” Goldman said.
The next OPEC+ meeting will decide whether to stick to the agreed 400,000 increase, but faces a conundrum if prices continue to rise. Some energy experts believe US shale oil could be on the cusp of a resurgence that could eat into OPEC+ market share.
West Texas Intermediate, the US standard, rose above $75 a barrel yesterday, a level many producers will regard as sufficient to justify resuming drilling.


Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap
Updated 27 September 2021

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

RIYADH: Oil prices rose on Monday for a fifth straight day, with Brent at its highest since October 2018 and heading for $80, as investors fretted about tighter supplies because of rising demand in parts of the world.

Brent crude was up $1.44, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $79.53 a barrel, having posted three straight weeks of gains. US crude futures rose $1.47, or 2 percent, to settle at $75.45 a barrel, its highest since July, after rising for a fifth straight week.

Goldman Sachs raised by $10 its year-end forecast for Brent crude to $90 per barrel. Global supplies have tightened due to the fast recovery of fuel demand from the outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus and Hurricane Ida's hit to US production.

“While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts,” Goldman said.

Caught short by the demand rebound, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+, have had difficulty raising output as underinvestment or maintenance delays persist from the pandemic.

Global oil demand is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by early next year as the economy recovers, although spare refining capacity could weigh on the outlook, producers and traders said at an industry conference.

Global demand is seen rising to 100 million barrels per day by the end of 2021 or in the first quarter of 2022, Hess Corp President Greg Hill said. The world consumed 99.7 million bpd of oil in 2019, according to the IEA, before the COVID-19 pandemic hammered economic activities and fuel demand.

In India, oil imports hit a three-month peak in August, rebounding from nearly one-year lows touched in July, as refiners in the second-biggest importer of crude stocked up in anticipation of higher demand.


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

Updated 27 September 2021

Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

  • TASI gains 0.1 percent to 11,369 points
  • Tadawul ends session in green zone for second consecutive season

RIYADH: The Saudi stock market ended Monday’s session in the green zone for the second consecutive session. 

The Tadawul All Share Index edged up 0.1 percent with fertilizers maker SABIC Agri-Nutrients increasing 6.7 percent and its parent company, Saudi Basic Industries, advancing 2.2 percent.

Despite the rise, banking shares kept the market under pressure. The general index closed trading at 11,369 points.

Liquidity in Tadawul amounted to about SR8.1 billion.

Shares of stc declined by 19 percent, Al-Rajhi Bank’s shares decreased by 0.3 percent, and Riyad Bank shares were down 1.5 percent.

Nomu, the parallel market index, decreased by 1020.82 points, or 4.09 percent, to close at 23923.37 points. Liquidity amounted to about SR152.5 million.

“The Saudi (stock) market is still maintaining its upward trajectory,” Mohammed Al-Omran, head of the Gulf Center for Financial Consultancy, told Arab News.

“We also noticed strong gains today and yesterday in petrochemical companies, whether in high shares or liquidity, and the reason is due to the energy crisis in the world in recent days. Due to these concerns, we are witnessing a rise in the prices of petrochemical companies,” he added.

On Monday, Emaar EC gained 3.6 percent to SR13.7 with over 21 million shares exchanging hands. On Sept. 26, shareholders approved the board’s recommendation to increase capital through converting SR2.83 billion debt owed by the company to the Public Investment Fund.

Six of the 21 market sectors rose, led by basic materials 2.1 percent, commercial and professional services 0.7 percent, and consumer services 0.4 percent.

The biggest gainers on Monday were Gas (21 percent), SABIC Agri-Nutrients (6.7 percent), Fitness Time (5.9 percent), Kayan (4.8 percent), Sipchem (4.7 percent), and Replay (4.4 percent).

 


Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm
Updated 27 September 2021

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

RIYADH: Sahara International Petrochemical Co. on Monday began supplying hydrogen to Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co., Argaam reported citing the company’s bourse filing.

The company attributed the delay in completing the project to the coronavirus pandemic, which further delayed the process of receiving equipment, thus resulting in productivity loss in construction.

The financial impact of this agreement will reflect on the company’s fourth quarter of 2021 financial results.

The agreement will enhance Sipchem’s presence as a reliable supplier in hydrogen production and open up many areas for the company in the gas industry.

According to data compiled by Argaam, Sipchem signed in May 2019 an agreement with SASREF to supply hydrogen gas for a period of 20 years.


Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is considering introducing new rules to facilitate and encourage the culture of continued education, said Saudi Education Minister Hamad Al-Alsheikh.

He was addressing a conference in Riyadh on Monday launched under the auspices of the Human Capability Development Program, which was recently launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The program’s strategy will be built on three pillars: Developing a resilient and strong educational base, preparing for the future labor market locally and globally, and providing lifelong learning opportunities.

The education minister said the government is taking measures to ensure that graduates find suitable openings in relevant field within 12 months of their graduation.

He also said by 2030 the Saudization percentage in high-skilled positions will increase to 40 percent.

Referring to the national capability development plan, the minister said it aims to develop a guidance system for high school students to help them make career choices based on their aptitudes.

He said efforts are underway to introduce regulations to attract global educational institutions in the Kingdom, which will boost competition between the local and foreign universities.

Ahmad Al-Faheed, governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corp., said the government in partnership with the private sector will design training programs to increase employment rates and enhance competitiveness among Saudi graduates.

Minister of Human Resources Ahmed Al-Rajhi said that a primary goal of the program is to match talent with demand in the market, and in case of failure of matching candidates with available jobs, the program will upgrade their skills.

Industry Minister Bandar Alkhorayef said the aim of the program launched by the Saudi crown prince is to transform the Kingdom’s industrial sector along modern lines. He said the Kingdom has no dearth of talent and the local companies have the potential to compete with their global counterparts.

The minister stressed the importance of adopting modern technology for strong industrial growth.