Black Sand in Egypt: An Untapped Treasure


After decades of neglecting this precious treasure, the Black Sand Complex was inaugurated in October 2022, in Burullus, Kafr Elsheikh, Egypt, to extract minerals from black sand. So, what is black sand? What is its significance?

Black sand is beach deposits that come from the headwaters of the Nile, which are rich in heavy minerals. It is named so because of its dark color as it contains a high concentration of iron. The most notable minerals found in black sand are ilmenite, zircon, magnetite, rutile, garnet, and monazite, which contains radioactive materials. Black sand dunes are located along the Egyptian North coast, starting from Abu Qir to the Rafah Border. Egypt has 11 sites of black sand, according to the Egyptian Nuclear Materials Authority.

In 2003, a high-resolution airborne gamma-ray spectrometry was used to estimate radioactive elements' spatial abundance along the Rosetta coastal zone area. It was noticed that "both Uranium and Thorium are concentrated in the black sand deposits along the beach [....] Results indicated that the human body in the study sites is exposed to radiation hazards that exceed the acceptable limit for long-duration exposure. Additionally, the areas covered by the highest concentration of Uranium and Thorium show the highest level of radiogenic heat production."

While Egypt is working to extract radioactive materials from black sands to protect the environment, it aims to benefit from the available economic resources. Black sand minerals are incorporated in several industries, including the iron and steel industry needed for building and construction, as well as widespread uses in the concrete and paint industries. Black sand has huge economic returns, as dozens of minerals, which are used in different critical economic industries—estimated at 41 industries—are extracted from it.

This Project is not only regarded as significant for its commitment to the environment in the first place, but it also deals with natural treasures that will generate huge economic returns.


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