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Black Sand in Egypt…Economic Importance and Enhancement Efforts

Egypt has huge natural wealth, including black sand, which has been neglected for decades, amid many failed attempts to exploit it, as it was exported as raw materials for little money, and was also subject to theft and smuggling abroad.

The state has become aware of its extreme importance, as many precious metals are extracted from it, which are used in many strategic industries that drive economic and investment development in the state.

The Strategic Forum for Public Policy and Development Studies “Draya ” issues a research paper that sheds light on black sand, through several axes that address the concept and a historical overview of its discovery, as well as its economic importance and the most prominent projects that were established to take advantage of this natural wealth that the Egyptian state enjoys.

The most important results of the paper were as follows:

– The geological reserve of black sand in Egypt at the level of the Egyptian coasts reaches about 1.3 billion cubic meters.

– 41 mineral elements are extracted from black sand, which are involved in 41 different industries.

– Rashid region has the largest reserves of black sand, where there are 600 million cubic meters, Damietta region has 300 million cubic meters, followed by Baltim region with a reserve of 200 million cubic meters, and North Sinai region 200 million cubic meters.

– Damietta governorate is the second largest governorate after Kafr el-Sheikh in terms of the concentration of minerals in black sand.

-There are two black sand sites in Kafr el Sheikh governorate, the first is east of Al-burlus in the navigation of” manisi ” belonging to the village of Al-shahabiya on an area of 80 acres, and the second is north of the International Road west of the giant power plant in Al-burlus on an area of 35 acres

First: The concept of “black sand” and its components

Black sand is a heavy black beach sediment that comes from the sources of the Nile and accumulates on some beaches in the form of sediments or sand dunes as a result of the collision of the Nile waters carrying it with the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and is spread by sea currents and waves, and is so called because it is predominantly dark in color because it contains a lot of heavy metals such as: rutile, aluminite, zircon, magnetite, and monazite, which are dense minerals with a specific density of about 2.8 compared to Quartz, which has a specific density of about 2.6.

Black sand consists of a set of layers within the soil in the Delta, which means that its size and proportions vary from one region to another, depending on the decline or height of the region, in addition to the influence of inclination and wind, and India, Brazil and Egypt are the most prominent countries rich in black sand as countries with estuaries of rivers in the seas.

Second: The history of the discovery of black sand in Egypt and the state’s efforts

The history of exploiting the wealth of black sand in Egypt dates back to the late 1930s, when a group of Greek people discovered it and began to exploit it in primitive ways. They transported black sand from Rosetta via the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Hajar al-Nawatiya in Alexandria Governorate, until Egyptian officials noticed the importance of this resource, and Establishing the first company to exploit black sand in Alexandria Governorate.

In 1984, the Egyptian government commissioned an Australian-English company to conduct technical and economic studies to examine how to exploit black sand in Egypt and determine the best places to establish this project. The total costs of the study amounted to about half a million pounds, without the project being established.

In April 2016, the first Egyptian company for black sand mining was established, which is the National Black Sand Company in Burullus in the city of Kafr El-Sheikh. The cost of the project was estimated at about 2 billion pounds, and the Armed Forces contributed as a primary partner with about 61% of it, a bank with about 14%, and the Authority. Nuclear materials by about 15%.

In 2018, the foundation stone was laid for the black sand separation plant in Burullus, on an area of 80 acres in Kafr El-Sheikh, with investments exceeding one billion pounds.

In 2019, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ratified Law No. 8 of 2019 authorizing the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy to contract with the Nuclear Materials Authority and the Egyptian Black Sands Company, regarding the search for exploration, mining, and concentration of economic minerals and by-products from black sand ore and their exploitation nationwide.

In August 2021, the Dutch-made “Tahya Misr” dredger arrived to begin dredging the black sand in Kafr El-Sheikh, and it was designed specifically for the Black Sands Company.

In October 2022, the black sand factory was opened in Kafr El-Sheikh, which is the latest of its kind in the world using advanced mining technology.

Third: the economic importance of black sands

The black sands in Egypt are spread along the coast in the East, starting from the city of Rashid to Rafah with a length of 400 km, and Egypt has 11 sites of these sands, and includes huge reserves of heavy metals. According to the studies and research carried out, the geological reserve of these sands at the level of the Egyptian coasts reaches about 1.3 billion cubic meters distributed over the following areas:

– Rashid region has the largest reserves of black sand, with 600 million cubic meters

– The Damietta region has 300 million cubic meters.

– The Baltim district has an estimated reserve of 200 million cubic meters.

– The North Sinai region has 200 million cubic meters.

Figure No. (1): Geographical distribution of Egypt’s black sand reserves

The economic importance of black sand is due to its content of minerals that represent the backbone of many industries, especially advanced technology and electronics. 41 mineral elements are extracted from black sand, which are used in 41 different industries.

The sand contains economic minerals, most notably rutile and ilite, which is used in the manufacture of paints, and zircon, which is used in the manufacture of ceramics, insulators, porcelain, and prosthetic teeth.

It also contains a lot of other heavy metals that enter into many industries such as: aircraft molds, car and aircraft structures, armored vehicles and military vehicles, railway rails and a lot of heavy industries, as well as the industries of ceramics, tiles, detergents, the manufacture of refractory materials and rubbers, Emery materials, especially sanding walls, high-tech floors, glass and Crystal industry, sports equipment, cosmetics industry, porcelain, cooking utensils, and many others.

Fourth: Black sand projects in Kafr El-Sheikh and Damietta

A-Kafr el Sheikh 

– There are two black sands sites in Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, the first east of Al-burlus on an area of 80 acres, and the second north of the International Road west of the giant power plant in Al-burlus on an area of 35 acres.Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, the National Service Projects Authority of the Armed Forces, the nuclear materials Authority, the investment bank and the first two manufacturers participate in the project with Egyptian-Australian experience in East Al-burlus, the second with Chinese experience in North Al-burlus and investments for the sand factory in North Al-burlus amounting to 24 million dollars.

– The Kafr el-Sheikh black sands plant project is located on an area of 35 acres, and includes a complex of six adjacent factories, each of which is specialized in extracting a specific mineral from black sand, in addition to a specially manufactured buoy to transport sand from the beach to factories to produce the 6 minerals that are used in many precision and rare industries, some of which are nuclear materials and handled by the Nuclear Energy Authority.

-The project is implemented in three main stages, the first is the stage of extracting heavy metals from black sand, the second is the separation of heavy metals from each other, and the third is the stage of adding added value to the produced minerals, through their manufacture and transformation into products of higher value, so that they are not sold on the raw image produced by them, but in a manufactured form, which contributes to the advancement of the Egyptian economy.


Damietta Governorate is the second largest governorate after Kafr El-Sheikh in terms of the concentration of minerals in the black sand. Its people had the second largest share of job opportunities in the Egyptian Black Sand Company, which is located near the Port Authority, where 20 young men were appointed to the project as an initial stage, followed by the appointment of other numbers of sons. Governorate according to the time plan.

In conclusion, black sand is a huge economic wealth that Egypt possesses, and the state has given it great attention in recent years and has sought to invest and exploit it in a way that achieves economic momentum that drives the Egyptian economy and places Egypt on the global mining map. Experts are betting that continuing work on this project will bring about a transformation. Economically in Egypt.

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