Egypt has awarded 82 exploration blocks to 11 companies in an international bid round for mineral exploration, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said on Thursday.
Among the companies awarded concessions were Australia's Centamin CEY.L, Canadian companies B2Gold BTO.TO, Barrick Gold, Lotus Gold, Red Sea resources and Britain's AKH Gold.
The bid was launched in March and covers 14,000 square meters with a minimum investment of 60 million US dollars for the first stage of exploration.
"Egypt pays much attention to the mining sector for maximizing the benefits of the mineral resources wealth and its contributions in the country's national income," el-Molla noted.
He added that the government works on developing the roads, ports and airports to lure more investments.
Though Egypt has a history of gold-mining stretching back to the pharaohs, it has only one commercial gold mine, Centamin’s Sukari, which contributes up to $900 million a year to its gross domestic product, Reuters reported.
The winning companies were awared only 29% of the blocks on offer in the bid round.
Egypt is targeting $1 billion dollars in investment in the mining sector and has opened up a second bid round for gold and mineral exploration from Thursday to last 4 months, Molla said.
Also, he announced other bids for gold mining in 2021, adding that other international tenders will take place amid of March 2021 on an area near Nasser Lake for mining iron, phosphate, white sand, zink, and potassium salt.