Black Sand Deposits

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Last Updated: October 1, 2009
Other Name: Egyptian Black Sands; Black Sand Resources; Egyptian Monazite Sands
Location: Rosetta Beach, Northern Egypt
Subordinate To: Nuclear Materials Authority (NMA)
Size: Pilot scale plant
Facility Status: Not used for uranium mining

The Black Sand Deposits are a potential unconventional uranium resource. [1] The deposits contain monazite, zircon, rutile, ilmenite, and magnetite. [2] The NMA estimates that the deposits contain 3,000 tons of monazite, which is composed of 0.46% uranium and 6.05% thorium. [3]

The NMA explored the deposits and established a pilot-scale extraction plant to exploit this potential uranium resource. [4] Recent exploration, however, has focused on Egypt's conventional, and more economically feasible, granite-based uranium resources. [5] Currently, the NMA is conducting studies at the site under a joint IAEA project and is therefore no longer attempting to mine the uranium. Its role is restricted to assessing environmental and radiological impacts to workers at the site, with the eventual goal of mining titanium and zirconium deposits. [6]

Key Sources:
[1] OECD, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand, (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2 June 2006), p. 157.
[2] Judith Perera, "Nuclear Industry of Egypt," March 2003, p. 11, www.opensource.gov.
[3] OECD, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Uranium 1999: Resources, Production and Demand, (Paris: OECD Publishing, July 2000), p. 146.
[4] Judith Perera, "Nuclear Industry of Egypt," March 2003, p. 11, www.opensource.gov.
[5] All recent IAEA technical cooperation related to uranium development has focused on economically mining granite-based resources. See: IAEA-TC Projects by Country: Egypt, "Uranium Resources Development in the Eastern Desert," Project Number EGY/3/014, www-tc.iaea.org; and "Uranium Resources Development," Project Number EGY/3/015, www-tc.iaea.org.
[6] OECD, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand, (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2 June 2006), p. 157.

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