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How Egypt is developing its Golden Triangle

The Egyptian government is currently developing the Golden Triangle area, which was recently designated as the richest in iron, copper, gold and phosphate minerals.
An Egyptian fisherman rows along the River Nile near Abou Shosha village in the Qina (Qena) governorate, some 600 kilometres south of the capital Cairo on March 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI        (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Egyptian government has recently described the Golden Triangle as one of the richest economic areas in Egypt given its large mineral reserves.

The Golden Triangle lies in Abu Tartour on the outskirts of Qena governorate in Upper Egypt and is home to a mining area rich in phosphate reserves, estimated at almost 1 billion tons.

The Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center, said in an infographic report published on its Facebook page Sept. 23 that the Golden Triangle area is rich in metallic and nonmetallic minerals. 

According to the report, the Golden Triangle contains iron, copper, gold and phosphate minerals, amounting to 75% of all of Egypt’s mineral resources, and holding Egypt’s phosphate reserves, paving the way for numerous investment opportunities in building new factories in various fields. 

The Golden Triangle is located on the coastal road connecting Egypt’s eastern borders to the north all the way to the southern border. The triangle area is jammed between the Red Sea governorate in the east and the Qena governorate in the west, with an 80-kilometer (50-mile) long seafront stretching between the borders of Safaga in the north and the borders of the city of al-Qusayr to the south and west. The triangle’s area stretches over 155 square kilometers (60 square miles) up to the borders of Qena. 

The project is seen as a major national development project that serves the southern part of Egypt. The area also occupies a vital position as it overlooks the Red Sea, allowing access to the Gulf states, East Asia and Africa, as well as being connected to central and southern Africa via the ports of Aswan, both onshore and via the Nile River. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had issued a presidential decree that was published in the official gazette in 2017, to establish the Golden Triangle Economic Zone.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abdullah, governor of the Red Sea governorate, told Al-Monitor that the infrastructure already exists in the area and is ready for investments and development projects to exploit the enormous potential and reserves in the area, namely minerals. 

He explained that the investment projects would consist of creating mineral and agricultural industrial entities, achieving industrial and agricultural development, with the possibility of establishing cement, gypsum and phosphate fertilizers factories, glass factories in areas rich in white sand, as well as mineral and industrial complexes for the production of gold

Abdullah said, “The goal of the Golden Triangle [project] is to create a new economic zone for the Upper Egypt area that will set in motion the wheel of development in its different cities, taking advantage of the available labor force in Upper Egypt.”

“This is in addition to benefiting from the untapped urban communities,” Abdullah added, noting that the Golden Triangle area will also include logistic areas, financial and business centers, commercial shopping centers, administrative departments, hotels, and recreational and open areas. 

Maha Fahim, deputy chairman of the General Organization for Physical Planning — which is in charge of implementing the Golden Triangle project — said the development plan of the area is based on developing the Safaga Port on the western coast of the Red Sea as a global mining commercial and industrial port, the establishment of new piers, as well as developing the port to serve various purposes, and implementing projects for cargo loading and unloading services. 

Fahim told Al-Monitor that the port will be developed into a commercial one that would provide all services and facilities, and would serve as a tourist port for yachts and major tourist boats, as well as a mining port.

Fahim added that the Hamrawein Port on the Red Sea coast, south of Hurghada, will also be developed and integrated with the Safaga Port and will be destined for the trade of mineral and stone materials. In addition, al-Qusayr city will be developed into a global ecotourism attraction, she added. 

Hassan Bakhit, chairman of the Arab Mining Advisory Council, a government body affiliated with the Syndicate of Scientific Professions, told Al-Monitor that the Golden Triangle area is rich in mineral resources, including copper, gold, lead, tin heavy metals and trace elements, as well as raw material for construction such as limestone and peds (aggregates), the main source for the cement industry in Egypt.

Bakhit stressed that the idea of the megaproject is based on the development of the triangle area and its mineral riches, as well as developing tourist and industrial areas to benefit from the mineral reserves.

He said the development plans will contribute to industrial development for the people of Upper Egypt. “This would be a good opportunity for the south and would provide the youth in the area with job opportunities, and would develop the Red Sea ports in such a way to optimize the export movement,” Bakhit said.

“There are existing limestone and peds quarries in the Golden Triangle. Some ports are operating too, including the Safaga Port, which will be [further] developed within the development plan for the entire area,” he added. “This national megaproject will create investment areas of a special nature for mining activities and related industries, and will be attractive to local and international investments.”

Bakhit concluded, “This would place Egypt on the international map for mining."

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