Black Sand Factory in Kafr El-Sheikh
Saturday، 11 February 2023 - 09:13 AM
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on October 19, 2022 inaugurated the black sand factory in Burullus city in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate. As a new addition to the series of national projects in Egypt, the black sand plant is the first of its kind in the world with the most advanced mining equipment.
The plant aims to optimize the use of Egypt's natural resources and attain added value of minerals extracted from black sand. The extracted minerals are used in the micro industries, a matter which pave the way to support national economy and attain overall development.
The project contributes to providing more than 5,000 direct and indirect job opportunities. The project aims to concentrate and separate economic minerals extracted from black sand in cooperation with foreign expertise and the Nuclear Materials Authority to transfer and strengthen the modern technologies in this respect.
An integrated feasibility study for the project was prepared by the major international companies working in the field of mining. The feasibility study took three years and included the economic feasibility study for the project, the environmental impact assessment study, the marketing study and the mining reserve study.
The black sand contains a percentage of essential minerals: ilmenite, zircon, magnetite, rutile, garnet, as well as monazite, which contains radioactive minerals. Of significant economic importance, Black sand is also beneficial for the environment.
In Egypt, black sand is available on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from Rasheed to Rafah with a length of 400 km. It is spread by sea currents and waves in those areas and present in the sand dunes.
Inauguration of the black sand factory complex in Kafr El-Sheikh came years after the State established the Egyptian Black Sand Company in 2016 and in turn, the foundation stone for a black sand separation plant in Burullus was laid in 2018 on an area of 80 acres in Kafr El-Sheikh, with investments exceeding EGP 1 billion.
Currently, the State is reviving the black sand project with the participation of the National Service Projects Organization of the Armed Forces, the Nuclear Materials Authority and the National Investment Bank, in addition to two factories, one of them is an Australian-Egyptian in East Burullus and the other is Chinese in the north of El-Burullus.
The black sand factory in Burullus, Kafr El Sheikh, includes six factories to dredge and separate minerals from black sand ore. The plant’s floating concentration station mines and dredges beach sand for rare minerals that could plug the gap in the local market of many industries with surpluses earmarked for export to European and Asian markets. The first phase of mining has begun from the Burullus dunes, which extends along a 16 km coastline. The plant is expected to produce 298k tons of ilmenite, 25k tons of zircon, 12k tons of garnet, 11k tons of rutile, and 145k tons of monazite.
Utilizations of black sand-extracted minerals
The project produces many important economic minerals that are included in many strategic industries such as germanite and rutile, which are a major source for the production of titanium metal, which is included in important strategic industries such as the manufacture of aircraft structures, missiles, submarines, space vehicles and prosthetic devices, as well as the production of titanium dioxide.
These are used in the manufacture of paints, dyes, paper, leather, and medical preparations. The project also produces zircon metal, which is used in the manufacture of ceramics, sanitary ware, glass, alloys, motors, dental fittings and furnace lining.
Magnetite is used in the manufacture of sponge iron, high-quality cast iron, high-temperature concrete, and mineral fertilizers. It is also used to remove salinity in the soil.
Garnet is a mineral that is used in the manufacture of bay stones, sandpaper, water filters, cutting marble and granite by air and water pressure, while zircon is a major source of rare earth elements that are used in the manufacture of electronic chips used in high-tech industries such as smart phones, electric cars and a secondary source of cerium and uranium.
Black sand is an accumulation of fragments of durable heavy minerals found in streambeds and beaches. The mining of these deposits yields ilmenite, zircon, garnet, rutile, magnetite and other rare minerals. In Egypt, rare earth elements such as Uranium and thorium are found in minerals — monazite and granites — extracted from black sand. Uranium was found in granites of the Eastern Desert while thorium was found in the Eastern Desert and in the monazite from black sands. Tests run on samples of black sand in Rashid revealed that black sand ores are rich in uranium, thorium, and other rare earth elements (REE. In fact, concentrations of rare earth elements in black sand were found to be higher than the average level globally.
REEs have medical, biological, industrial, and nuclear applications. The 41 types of extracted minerals are production inputs for more than 49 strategic industries: The manufacture of aircraft structures, missiles, submarines, space vehicles, dyes, paper, leather, paint, ceramics, engine alloys, dental fittings, metal beds, high-temperature concrete, sponge iron, abrasive stones, sandpaper, water filters, telephones, and EVs.
Black Sand Importance
The importance of black sand was first discovered at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, proved by a feasibility study of the sand and how to best utilize it, conducted by the international Australian Office.
According to an aerial survey carried out by the Nuclear Materials Authority, Egypt has 11 sites of black sand along the northern coast. Studies and researches have revealed that the geological reserve of those sands on the Egyptian coast reaches about 1.3 billion cubic meters, including Rasheed area, with reserves of 600 million cubic meters, Damietta area with a reserve of 300 million cubic meters, and Arish Rafah area with 200 million cubic meters.
Mineral reserves in Egyptian black sands are estimated at 285 million tons, containing an average capacity of 3.4 percent of heavy metals with a distance of about 22 km, in the western sector which lies east of Burullus. There are also proven mineral reserves in the eastern sector, worth about 48 million tons containing an average capacity of 2.1 percent of heavy metals, as well as the future supply of black sand.
The black sand in these areas contains eight types of heavy metals, ranging in composition between 1 percent and 8 percent.
A feasibility study by Roche Company argues that the economic return from merely one of the 11 sites will lead to over EGP 255 million annually. Exploitation of these minerals provides Egypt with millions of dollars, which would be spent on importing only one of these metals, such as zinc, one of the key elements in Egypt’s famous ceramic industry, in addition to other metals, including iron, granite, monazite and titanium metal utilized in the manufacture of bodies of aircraft, submarines and rail bars.
Black sand contains elements and minerals, such as almnjanet; radioactive elements; and titanium metal, which is extracted from high-quality alalimat and rutile, then used in the manufacture of paints and coatings, plastics and rubber, ceramics, cosmetics, leather, pharmaceuticals. It also contains metal zircon, which is used in the manufacture of ceramics, glass hearts, nuclear reactors and car motors, in addition to metal granite used in the manufacture of water filters and paints. Also, almajnti ore is used in the manufacture of sponge iron and cast iron.
Rashid has the largest reserves of black sand, with 500 million cubic meters, pointing out that the Egyptian sand deposits represent the largest reserves in the world, as they spread along areas on the Mediterranean coast.
Egyptian Black Sand Company
The Egyptian Black Sand Company was established as an Egyptian joint stock company in cooperation with the National Service Projects Organization, the Nuclear Materials Authority, the National Investment Bank, the Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate and the Egyptian Company for Mining Resources.
The National Service Projects Organization holds 61%, with the rest of the shareholder structure divided between the Nuclear Material Authority (NMA) (15%), the National Investment Bank (12%), the local governorate administration of Kafr El-Sheikh (10%), and the Egyptian Company for Mining Resources 2%.
The project consists of two groups of factories. The first group consists of the “Long Live Egypt” dredger produced by the Damen Dutch company with a production capacity of 2,500 tons / hour, and the floating concentrate plant for extracting heavy economic metals concentrate from black sand with a production rate of 158 tons / hour. The first group of factories is located along the international coastal road and the Mediterranean coast, at a distance of 12 km northwest of the separation factories complex.