Unspecified, locations in the Sinai and Eastern Desert

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Last Updated: October 1, 2009
Other Name: N/A
Location: Sinai Peninsula, Egypt's Eastern Desert
Subordinate To: Nuclear Materials Authority (NMA)
Size: Multiple sites
Facility Status: Exploration and evaluation

Egypt has an ongoing program in the Sinai and Eastern Deserts to extract uranium ore through heap leach mining. Egypt asserts that none of the uranium ore concentrate produced is of a purity or composition to require IAEA safeguarding, but transferred some of the material to NMA headquarters in Cairo for IAEA review during the agency's 2005 investigations. [1]

Egypt began investigating conventional uranium occurrences in the Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert, Eastern Desert, and Sinai Peninsula in the 1950s. Egypt also explored unconventional uranium resources contained in phosphate deposits in the Western Desert, Nile Valley, and the Red Sea Coast. These phosphate deposits contain substantial uranium (estimated at 33,000 tons), but extraction would be difficult and expensive. [2] From 2001 to 2005, the NMA suffered substantial budget cuts, effectively crippling further phosphate exploration plans. As a result, the NMA decided to explore and evaluate only the most promising sites in the Sinai and Eastern Desert.

Presently, exploration is focusing on conventional granite-based uranium resources in the inter-mountain basins, while evaluation of potential uranium resources continues in the El Sella and Kab Amiri areas of the Eastern Desert. [3] Attention is being concentrated on several mineralized vein-type deposits (Gabal Gattar, El Miskat/El Erediya, Um Ara, and El Atshan) and a siltstone deposit in the Sinai (Wadi Nasib). Egypt also discovered another uranium bearing area, Gabal Kadabora, in the central eastern desert. Generally, operations in the Eastern Desert have included deep trenching, tunneling, core and percussion drilling, and laboratory analysis. [4]

Western intelligence sources believe that in January 2005, Egypt and China formed an agreement for Chinese assistance in mining uranium deposits on the Sinai Peninsula. [5] The status of this project is unclear.

[1] "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Report by the Director General," IAEA, 14 February 2005, p. 3, www.carnegieendowment.org.
[2] Barbary M. Gregory, "Egypt's Nuclear Program: Assessing Supplier Based and Other Developmental Constraints," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1995, pp. 3-4; "Uranium Extraction Unit," Nuclear Materials Authority (NMA), PowerPoint Presentation, www.iaea.org.
[3] OECD, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand, (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2 June 2006), p. 156.
[4] Judith Perera, Nuclear Industry of Egypt, March 2003, p. 10, www.opensource.gov.
[5] Yana Feldman, Mary Beth Nikitin, and Jack Boureston, "Egyptian nuclear non-disclosures cause concern," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 April 2005, www.janes.com.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.